May 06, 2009

West Ham United chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is saddled with huge personal debts of more than $450 million, he revealed on Wednesday.

That figure could give extra urgency to the club's attempts to find a buyer, as Mr Gudmundsson is forced to sell assets to meet those debts.

"The situation is very bad," the BBC reports him telling Icelandic newspaper Morgunbladid. "I have everything on the line -- personal liability extends to all of my assets. I'm left with the question, what is my position? I must admit that I'm a little lost. I just don't know what I will be able to keep."

The Icelander bought the club for $130 million in November 2006, and has invested another $45 million in the club since.

A series of business setbacks mean that his debts have mounted to their current level, and the situation is so bad that any reasonable offer for the club would be considered.

A consortium of creditors led by Icelandic bank Straumur, itself in financial difficulties, is currently engaged in talks about a potential takeover of the club, but what may ultimately happen is that control will pass to an asset management company appointed by the Icelandic government.

English media sources, including the BBC and Sky, report that club insiders are confident West Ham will still meet the criteria required to be granted a UEFA Club Licence, allowing it to compete in the Europa League, should it finish high enough in this season's table.

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