Hammers to talk tough over takeover

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The Independent Football

The Kia Joorabchian takeover of West Ham United appears to be on the verge of collapse. A price of £70m had been agreed for the Premiership club, but it is understood that the Iranian businessman is struggling to raise the funds.

West Ham have a scheduled board meeting tomorrow at which the proposed takeover will be high on the agenda. There is growing concern that the prospect of a deal has caused too much disruption at the club, especially as it has been followed by a run of five defeats, including the exit from the Uefa Cup.

After the meeting it is expected that West Ham will issue Joorabchian with some form of ultimatum to come forward with the cash immediately or drop his interest. Sources are "99 per cent sure" he will be unable to go through with the deal and that the situation will become clear by Thursday.

Joorabchian has been casting around for backing and has the support of the property magnate Eli Papoushado, but the Israeli, a friend of agent Pini Zahavi, is reluctant to commit too much money. He has admitted he is only really interested in the "real estate" possibilities of redeveloping Upton Park should the club eventually move to the new Olympic Stadium.

If the deal collapses, it will further strengthen the position of West Ham's manager, Alan Pardew, who has had misgivings about the takeover, and has spoken about the need to safeguard the "integrity" of the club, since it was first mooted. Pardew, who signed a new contract last season, retains the support of the chairman, Terence Brown, and the rest of the West Ham board.

It would also raise questions over the future of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, whom Joorabchian brought to the club during the summer but who have, so far, proved to be a disappointment. The two Argentines have signed permanent contracts at West Ham but it is thought unlikely that they would stay beyond this season if Joorabchian, who first expressed interest in buying the club last year only to fail to raise the money then, was no longer on the scene.

If the deal does fall through, it will probably come as a relief to West Ham supporters. Their excitement at the arrival of the two World Cup stars, and the prospect of huge investment, has been replaced by scepticism and concern over the club's future.

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