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West Ham taken over by Icelandic banks as Gudmundsson era ends

WEST HAM&rsquo;S new owners CB Holding have reassured fans that manager Gianfranco Zola and assistant Steve Clarke are going nowhere.<br /><br />And the asset management company &ndash; made up of several Icelandic banks &ndash; insist Zola will be given money to spend this summer.<br /><br />CB Holding acquired the Premier League club yesterday in a takeover estimated to be worth &pound;100m, after former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson failed to find a buyer.<br /><br />Gudmundsson owed around &pound;100m to Icelandic investment bank Straumur, who formed CB Holdings with other creditors last week in order to take over and run the Hammers.<br /><br />The widely-expected move signals the departure of Gudmundsson, who has lost around &pound;500m in the downturn, less than three years after buying his consortium bought West Ham for &pound;85m. <br /><br />Straumur senior director Andrew Bernhardt will become non-executive chairman at Upton Park, but chief executive Scott Duxbury remains in charge day-to-day. And Bernhardt insists the off-field changes will not have an impact on the pitch, where Zola and Clarke have prospered since taking charge in September. &ldquo;CB Holding fully supports the executive management of the club and acknowledges the considerable progress achieved this season by Scott Duxbury and Gianfranco Zola,&rdquo; said Bernhardt. &ldquo;CB Holding has no intention of changing the executive management or direction of the club.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;We have one of the best young management partnerships in Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke. I can assure fans we will sanction investment in new players.&rdquo; Bernhardt said CB Holding was planning beyond the short-term, adding: &ldquo;We have an initial two-year plan.&rdquo;<br /><br />A court hearing in his native Iceland had given Gudmundsson until today to sell the club and pay back main creditor Straumur.<br /><br /><strong>Q &amp; A : WHAT WEST HAM&rsquo;S TAKEOVER MEANS</strong><br /><br /><strong>Q.WHO ARE WEST HAM&rsquo;S NEW OWNERS?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong>CB &ndash; which stands for Claret and Blue &ndash; Holding was set up specifically to take over and run West Ham. It is 70 per cent owned by bank Straumur &ndash; main creditor of the club&rsquo;s former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson. Other creditors &ndash; NP, Byr and Landsbanki &ndash; own 30 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Q.WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR WEST HAM IN THE SHORT TERM?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong>The takeover removes a measure of uncertainty hanging over West Ham&rsquo;s plans for next season. But the owners, unlikely to remain in charge for seasons on end, are unlikely to inject fresh cash for players, meaning Zola will probably have to raise transfer funds by selling.<br /><br /><strong>Q.WHAT WILL IT MEAN IN THE LONG-TERM?<br /></strong><strong>A.</strong>Beyond the next few months, uncertainty still surrounds the future of the club. CB Holding was set up to run West Ham &ndash; it did not exist as an investment vehicle beforehand &ndash; and is unlikely to resist if a buyer willing to pay more than &pound;100m emerges.<strong><br /><br /><strong>GUD TIMES</strong><br /><br /><strong>21 November 06</strong><br /></strong>Gudmundsson&rsquo;s consortium buys West Ham for &pound;85m. He becomes honorary life president, with Eggert Magnusson as chairman<strong><br /><br /><strong>13 December 07</strong><br /></strong>Gudmundsson takes over as chairman from Magnusson, amid reports he was sacked for his free-spending policy<strong><br /><br /><strong>3 September 08</strong><br /></strong>Boss Alan Curbishley resigns, saying he was forced to sell players. Gianfranco Zola takes charge<strong><br /><br /><strong>12 September 08</strong><br /></strong>Kit sponsor XL Holidays goes bust one year into a three-year &pound;7.5m deal. Gudmundsson is also a guarantor on XL&rsquo;s &pound;163 bank loan<strong><br /><br /><strong>7 October 08</strong><br /></strong>Gudmundsson sacked as chairman of Landsbanki, which is placed into receivership. He is also a major shareholder in the bank<strong><br /><br /><strong>3 September 08</strong><br /></strong>Icelandic court gives Gudmundsson until 9 June to sell club and pay Straumur the &pound;100m he owes it <strong><br /><br /><strong>8 June 08</strong><br /></strong>CB Holding takes over after Gudmundsson accepts defeat in attempt to find buy