West Ham lose £8m sponsorship deal

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The Independent Online

West Ham United are set to lose out after the collapse of XL. Not only is the failed business the main shirt sponsor for the Premier League football club, but West Ham's Icelandic owner was one of XL's biggest investors.

Sources at the club say it is owed nearly £8m by XL, which signed the three-year shirt deal last July. Talks between the airline's administrators and West Ham are scheduled for next week.

The Independent understands that the players will wear the now-defunct company's logo on their shirts for today's match against West Bromwich Albion, but that it will be removed before next Saturday's home fixture against Newcastle United.

A source at West Ham said: "It's a £4m-a-year deal with nearly two years left to run. We were aware that they were going through problems, but it still came as a shock when the news broke. We will seek to meet with the administrators next week and see where we stand. We will keep XL's logo on the shirt for tomorrow's game because we don't want to be in breach of our contract. If we are not going to get any of our money, the next step would be to take their name off the shirt."

A spokesman for XL said: "We have contacted the club to notify them that the administrators would not be in a position to complete the sponsorship deal."

It has also emerged that Bjorgolfur Gudmundson, West Ham's owner, was a member of a group of investors which took over a loan of £165m given to XL in order to finance a buyout in 2006. The loan is unlikely to be repaid.

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