Tycoon's £70m Hammers takeover on hold

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The Independent Football

Kia Joorabchian is to be given more time to mount his £70m bid for West Ham United after pleading with the Premiership club's directors that his interest is serious.

The possibility of a takeover was discussed at a scheduled board meeting yesterday along with West Ham's slump in form which has resulted in five consecutive defeats.

The manager, Alan Pardew, addressed the board and last night released a statement dismissing speculation ­ that surfaced after the 1-0 defeat to Reading on Sunday ­ that he had threatened to quit. "I absolutely did not threaten to resign in any shape or form," Pardew said. "I have a good working relationship with the board and we are working hard to turn the poor results around."

Indeed, Pardew is understood to be furious at the suggestions that he threatened to walk out over the possibility of a takeover, its destabilising effect or the arrival of the Argentine players Carlos Tevez or Javier Mascherano.

However, Pardew has previously made plain his concerns as to what might happen if the club is sold, and has pledged to maintain what he terms its "integrity" ­ a statement that was not, apparently, well received by Joorabchian. Pardew has also told the West Ham chairman, Terence Brown, that he would like any takeover discussions to be settled quickly.

But Pardew is also ambitious both for himself and West Ham and does accept that substantial investment is needed if he is to make the club a major force in the Premiership. Brown, as chairman, also has a duty to listen to offers and that argument held sway at yesterday's board meeting.

Earlier in the week, the club's directors were keen to issue Joorabchian with some form of ultimatum to try to resolve whether or not he was going to make an offer. Brown, who is undoubtedly willing to sell at the right price, and controls 40 per cent of the club's shares, has grown impatient at the apparent lack of progress from the Iranian businessman. He shares the concern that the interest has been unsettling.

However, Joorabchian has successfully argued that it has simply not been possible for him to have finalised his plans by now. A complication, which he has relayed to the board, has been the fact that he has been in a period of mourning following the death of his father.

Joorabchian has insisted that his interest is real and that he is capable of raising the money. The club, including its debt, is believed to be valued at £70m ­ with Joorabchian hoping to raise £100m in total so there is money to buy new players.

The Israeli property magnate Eli Papoushado has stated that he is willing to join Joorabchian's consortium. He did not help matters by last week declaring that he was only interested in the "real estate" possibilities of the deal and re-developing Upton Park, should the club eventually move to the new Olympic Stadium, and knew little about football.

Sources at the club remain highly sceptical as to whether Joorabchian will ultimately be able to find the funds, with one yesterday rating his chances of succeeding as "negligible". They have also grown irritated by his public statements ­ although he has said little lately ­ and by his apparent intention to interfere.

One reason why the directors did not try to force his hand yesterday may well be because there are other potential bidders interested and they do not want to affect the price the club will eventually be sold for. One group, which wishes to remain anonymous at present, has been in contact with The Independent, and insists that it is interested although it admits that the prospect of a deal is not yet advanced. The consortium claims to be made up of a small group of wealthy businessmen, based in Britain and abroad " who have West Ham's interests at heart".

West Ham's directors are aware of that interest but are understood to doubt whether, as with Joorabchian, it will amount to a serious bid. But they are also now prepared to give Joorabchian "a few more weeks", with the managing director, Paul Aldridge, in particular, willing to hear what he has to offer.

One source said last night: "In an ideal world we would get this out of the way now ­ and that was the intention. But we do accept that it's not been physically possible for him to have gone through the processes he needs to go through."

Indeed, it is understood that Joorabchian has, in fact, only had " cursory conversations" with West Ham about the possibility of a bid since he brought Mascherano and Tevez.

But he has grown frustrated at the club's results, which has not helped relations with the board or with Pardew. The future of Tevez and Mascherano at the club, although they have signed permanent contracts, would be in some doubt should, as is still expected, the Joorabchian deal collapse.

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