Fans' group move to oust Brown balked

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The Independent Football

West Ham have invited shareholders to vote on whether the club's chairman, Terence Brown, and his closest allies should resign at an extraordinary general meeting.

A group of shareholders calling themselves "Whistle" wanted to oust Brown, the finance director, Nick Igoe, and the managing director, Paul Aldridge, at the club's annual general meeting on 8 December.

While the Whistle spokesman, Mike Hanna, claims the group have enough support to force a vote at that meeting, West Ham insist they have missed a legal deadline for the motion to be put on the agenda at the AGM, and must wait for an EGM to be called instead. A statement from the club read: "The Companies Act 1985 stipulates that requisitions for members' resolutions must be deposited with the company no later than six weeks before the AGM.

"Mr Hanna appears to have misinterpreted the Act as the requisitions have not been deposited with the company within the correct time limit. For this reason, the resolutions proposed by Mr Hanna cannot be included within the business to be dealt with at the AGM.

"However, the company is prepared to facilitate a procedure whereby the resolutions can be voted oneven though there is no obligation to do so ... and has made an offer to Mr Hanna that it is prepared to convene an extraordinary general meeting to put the resolutions to shareholders.

"The board will vigorously defend its management record at any EGM so convened and is confident of winning the support of the vast majority of its shareholders."

The statement added: "The company hopes that holding this EGM will be an opportunity to bring this issue to a conclusion and thereafter enable the company, its supporters and shareholders to focus on taking West Ham United forward."

Whistle claim to have the support of over 100 signatories and 40,000 total shares, but West Ham insist this still amounts to just 0.8 per cent of the voting rights in the company. The group want to install Trevor Brooking in place of the trio, who they blame for the club's £44m debts, but West Ham insist Brooking, along with two of the club's major shareholders, are distancing themselves from the revolt.

The statement continued: "Trevor Brooking, Charles Warner and Martin Cearns, who are all referred to in a letter to some shareholders dated 7 November, 2003 from Mr Hanna's group, have each confirmed that they have had no contact from any representatives of this group and have further confirmed that they wish to disassociate themselves completely from the group and its objectives."