'Hands-on' Magnusson aims to conquer Europe

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Eggert Magnusson said yesterday that he will be a "hands-on" chairman of West Ham United and wanted the club to be "competing for places in the Champions' League" every season.

The Icelander, who will move his family home to London, held a further meeting with the manager, Alan Pardew, after it was announced that his £85m bid for the club - plus taking on the debts of £22.5m - had been accepted.

Magnusson, who will be an executive chairman, with his main financial backer, the Icelandic banker Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, becoming honorary life president, once again stressed that he will provide funds for the January transfer window with more cash next summer. As yet, transfer targets have not been discussed.

Pardew's priority will be a right-sided midfield player which will raise the prospect of a bid for Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips, who is understood to be available for about £10m.

That's less than half the fee Chelsea paid for him from Manchester City but the champions, who are refusing to let Wright-Phillips go out on loan, are willing to do a permanent deal.

Magnusson, along with Pardew, will also have to decide what to do about the captain Nigel Reo-Coker, who has been unsettled since the deadline-day interest in him expressed by Manchester United and Arsenal.

Those inquiries followed the arrival of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano at the club. The likelihood is that the two Argentines will leave as soon as possible as they were brought to West Ham by the Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian. His £75m bid has failed.

If the players leave, and it would need Fifa to bend its rules for a deal to happen, West Ham are unlikely to receive any money from a transfer fee. However, Magnusson insisted that their future will be decided by Pardew, who is understood to be enthusiastic about them staying as they are now in better physical shape.

"He has absolute power over his team and it is his decision who he wants to add to his squad," Magnusson said of Pardew. Magnusson added: "I think he is a great manager, he has done great things with West Ham. Last season was a great year and I fully believe he will help me take West Ham to the next stage."

Magnusson acknowledged that reaching the Champions' League - with the club fighting a relegation battle right now - "will not happen today or tomorrow or the day after. We will take it slowly and build on the foundations that are already here".

For the 59-year-old, who will step down as head of his country's football association, that includes the possibility of the club eventually moving to the stadium being built for the 2012 Olympics.

"In terms of the club's location, we are buying what we see, which is West Ham at Upton Park," he said. "However, if there is an opportunity to discuss a long-term move to the Olympic Stadium, I'd like to explore that, recognising that there will also need to be an athletics legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games."

The deal to buy West Ham was completed on Monday with a formal announcement made at 8am yesterday to the Stock Exchange. The company controlled by Magnusson and Gudmundsson - the multi-millionaire chairman of Iceland's Landsbanki - WH Holdings, paid 421p a share. The bid was about £10m higher than was going to be offered by Joorabchian.

The Icelandic consortium now controls 83 per cent of the shares with the outgoing chairman, Terry Brown, who has been offered the role of honorary vice-president, making about £32m for his stake in the club which has fallen into foreign ownership for the first time in its history.

Comments