Upton Park upheaval

Zola keen to stay even if West Ham are sold

April 17, 2009

Gianfranco Zola is hopeful of signing a new contract at West Ham United despite a looming change in the club's ownership.

Current owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the recession-hit Icelandic financier, is expected to have to hand over West Ham to his major creditor, Icelandic bank Straumur.

Although Straumur are themselves in financial trouble and are effectively being run by officials appointed by the Icelandic government, it is understood they are not looking to sell West Ham off quickly.

And Zola has insisted he wants to stay at Upton Park, with positive moves on a new improved deal.

The Sardinian told the Evening Standard: ''I have started something at this club and I want to see how it goes in the next few years.

''On the contract there are some positive things. We will see but hopefully in the next few weeks things will be settled.

''Hopefully there will be no problems. The club wants to look after us and I hope everyone will be satisfied.''

Zola has made it clear however that he wants his assistant Steve Clarke and the rest of the coaching team to stay.

He added: ''The club knows that is the first condition. This is not just about me but the whole team.

''The secret this season has been that everybody has done a great job together and now we must go forward as a team, otherwise we will stay where we are.''

The ownership change inevitably raises questions about how much money Zola will have available for transfers.

But the fact West Ham have performed so well and are challenging for Europe will make Zola an asset in the eyes of the owners, allowing him to make a strong case for having funds made available.

Zola said: ''We know that if we play in Europe we will need more players. One of the reasons we have a policy of having good young players available is that they can come in and do a good job for the team.

''We are going to have a bigger squad next year but I am not going to have more than a maximum of 22 players. I know I risk a little bit when I go for a small number like that but I believe I gain something else.

''I am not going to have a squad bigger than 20. Maybe I will have three, four or five very good young players in the reserves who are ready to come in when they are needed.''