Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Beat Goes On

As mentioned yesterday, the struggling investment bank Straumer-Burdaras, which has a 70% stake in the new owners of West Ham United, has been granted a six-month reprieve by a district court in Reykjavik to stave off creditors. CB Holdings, which is made up of creditors owed money by West Ham's former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and whose majority stakeholder is Straumur, took over at Upton Park last week. The bank had been in danger of being declared insolvent and applied for an extension to an existing three-month moratorium. A judge in the Icelandic capital has now increased that period until 11 December.

This morning's Guardian reports Straumur must still convince its creditors that its plans for West Ham and other managed assets are acceptable. The bank is attempting to transform itself into an asset-management company but will require a "composition agreement" to be granted by creditors, who will be asked to accept a fixed sum for what they are owed. Should they fail to reach an agreement at a meeting scheduled for 6 August, Straumur would face a winding-up order, which could conceivably have serious implications on the stability at Upton Park. That said, even if Straumur is declared insolvent, there are other creditors owed money by Hansa who would likely step in and assume their stake in CB Holding.

Sources at Straumur remained positive last night, insisting the granting of the moratorium "does not change anything for West Ham", with this the latest stage in the bank's attempt to financially restructure itself. Meanwhile, Gianfranco Zola remains hopeful that he can add to his squad in the coming weeks. The Guardian confirms talks are still ongoing with Jose Mourinho's Internazionale over the potential deals of the winger Amantino Mancini and the attacking midfielder Luis Jiménez, both on initial season-long loan arrangements. A third target, as yet unnamed, is also reportedly in the pipeline.

One familiar face who hasn't given up hope of re-signing for West Ham United is Radoslav Kovac. The Czech Republic international spent the second half of last season on loan at Upton Park, making 10 appearances and scoring once in the 3-1 defeat at Everton. The Hammers have so far declined to take up the £4million option to make the transfer from Spartak Moscow permanent. However, the 29-year-old has implored the club to renegotiate the deal. "I hope that West Ham will still be able to come to an agreement with Spartak," Kovac told Russian newspaper Sport Express. "In principle, I wouldn't object to going to Hannover, but I would prefer to stay in England, where there is also interest from another Premier League club (thought to be Sunderland). I'm now on holiday in Prague and my contract with Spartak requires me to return to Moscow at the end of June. Perhaps by this time my future will be more certain."

In other news, it is thought United are one of two Premier League clubs on the trail of Patryk Malecki. The Wisla Krakow youngster has been strongly linked with West Ham in the Polish media but refused to confirm Gianfranco Zola's Hammers are one of the sides interested in buying him. Setanta report that Wisla are in negotiations over a new contract with the right-sided midfielder but there are other options available to the 20-year-old. "I feel very well in Krakow," the Poland Under-21 international informed Interia. "I would like to play as long as possible in Krakow. Wisla know what my conditions are and the club is looking into them in July, and it seems I have to receive the offer. Let's see, it's been less than two weeks. West Ham? No [I can't confirm]. All I know is that Greek and English clubs are interested in me. I was informed that I have two Premier League clubs who would like me in their squad. If West Ham really want me, it would be cool."

Back on the field and Mark Noble is excited by the prospect of meeting favourites Spain in England's second game at the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship tonight. The midfielder recalls playing the same opposition at the 2004 UEFA European U17 Championship, when he was harshly sent-off for a foul that led to Cesc Fabregas sending eventual winners Spain through to the final from the penalty spot. Five years later, he is the captain of the U21s and looking to build on a man-of-the-match performance in the tentative 2-1 success against Finland in the opening Group B encounter in Sweden.

"It is obviously a great moment coming to a tournament like this," he said. "Going into the last Under-21 tournament in 2007 I expected to only be a squad player but I worked hard, as some of the players here have done like Kieran Gibbs who's come in and got into the team. To captain a side with some of the players and ability out on that pitch is a pleasure for me. Everyone knows we didn't play as well as we can against Finland but this is tournament football and if we play five games without playing as well as we can well I'd take that now. We've got Spain on Thursday, and will be training and preparing for that knowing we can play a lot better than we did."

England's team leader is quick to pay tribute to the resilience in the ranks following Michael Mancienne's early dismissal against the Finns. "To be fair they surprised us early on and we knew as a team we weren't playing as well as we can but in tournament football you have to grind out results," he added. "We had a bit of misfortune with Michael getting sent off but still as a group of players, and a group of friends, we dug it out and got the result. It's pretty similar to 2007. We have a lot of players who are playing regularly in the Premier League and then you've got those who've come in late to the squad and have added that bit of quality and enthusiasm that you need around the team. We've got a great bunch of lads this year, as we did two years ago, and hopefully we can just go that one step further than we did then and take that trophy back to England. That's why we're here and that's what we want to do."

So England Under 21s can book their place in the semi-finals with victory over their Spanish counterparts this evening. Stuart Pearce is hopeful of having Micah Ricards, who scored the winning goal versus Finland, at his disposal after the Manchester City defender sustained a thigh problem. James Milner (thigh) and Adam Johnson (hip) have minor knocks, while forward Theo Walcott must wait to see if he will start after a quiet first-half performance on Monday.

Spain are seeking their first win of the tournament after they were held to a goalless draw in their first encounter against Germany. The feeder team for the Euro 2008 winners are likely to have goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo and winger Diego Capel available despite ankle problems.

Spain U21 v England U21
7.30pm, Thurs, Sky Sports 3

1 comment:

Emlyn said...

I'm constantly being told that I have to support England cos I support the Irons. Just wondering if my fellow hammers feel that I should care for Enland football team? (football gossip bit short today)


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