Magnusson seizes the initiative in West Ham takeover

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The Independent Football

Eggert Magnusson hopes to table a recommended bid for West Ham United next week. Yesterday Magnusson's advisers began the process of due diligence and have decided upon an accelerated timetable to push through the £75m takeover.

Magnusson's consortium is sure he has made a breakthrough after a surprise meeting with the chairman Terry Brown on Monday. With the rival consortium headed by Kia Joorabchian stalling after trying to renegotiate the price because of the £4m outstanding on the transfer of Dean Ashton, Magnusson believes he is in pole position.

Joorabchian's main backer, the property magnate Eli Papoushado, flew into London on Tuesday to decide on their next move. But they have received a blow with the apparently definitive statement from Government and 2012 officials that they will not be allowed to use the Olympic Stadium.

Magnusson, who is the head of his country's football association but would step down to become West Ham's new chairman, stepped up his campaign to take control with a statement yesterday confirming his main backer's interest and credentials. Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, chairman of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, is said to have "given Mr Magnusson his full and absolute support". Gudmundsson is using his own, and not the bank's money.

The statement added: "Mr Gudmundsson is a wealthy Icelandic businessman with interests in companies with international operations in the field of finance, transportation, real estate and publications."

There also remains the possibility of other bidders, especially as no deadlines have been set by West Ham. Brown is understood to have claimed that a would-be American buyer has made contact while an intriguing prospect would involve the former West Ham player Tony Cottee. He is believed to have helped to get Magnusson involved in a bid in the first place but is no longer involved with the Icelandic group.

It could be that Cottee, and other backers who have been left behind by Magnusson, will now mount their own takeover offer. Many club sources, however, feel it is unlikely that any of the interested parties will be able to agree a deal.

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