Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Empty Vessel Makes The Loudest Sound

"West Ham's new owners plan to take a profit and be off," screams an hysterical headline in today's Guardian. Suddenly startled by the notion that CB Holding (a specially set-up asset-management company) might actually have taken over the club with the intention of recouping losses from former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, Sachin Nakrani has delivered a rather curious rehash of the same reflexive article he wrote a few days ago in which doubt is cast on the benefits to West Ham of the recent takeover.

Treating week old news as astounding revelation, Nakrani blusters that the stricken Icelandic investment bank Straumur, which has a 70% stake in CB Holding, is itself in danger of being declared insolvent. The bank has applied to the district court of Reykjavik for a six-month extension to its existing three-month moratorium, with a decision to be announced by the judge on Tuesday. A failure to get an extension could see the bank declared insolvent and asset-stripped in order to cover debts to creditors, a meeting of whom is scheduled for 6 August. This, he drools, could have ramifications for West Ham who, under Premier League rules regarding ownership, could potentially then face sanctions. Yet "Straumur is confident it will be granted the extension," claims an unnamed source in the article. "West Ham supporters should not worry. Even if Straumur is declared insolvent, there are other creditors owed money by Hansa who will step in and take over their stake in CB Holding."

Ah, but I can 'exclusively reveal' that the consortium's purchase of West Ham is seen purely as a short-term venture, says Nakrani, to be moved on when the economic climate is more temperate. "Well, it makes business sense for CB Holding to hang on to the club for no longer than two or three years and, hopefully, make some profit from the investment," counters the source. "The people responsible for CB Holding do not have any great knowledge of footballing matters. They will leave that to the current management team, who they have great confidence in. They just hope their association with West Ham will prove to have been a wise one." The source adds that CB Holding had no desire to asset-strip the club as this would lead only to a "short-term gain" and perhaps damage its investment should a sale of key players lead to poor results on the pitch. And the point of your story, Mr Nakrani, was what?

Elsewhere, The Times states West Ham United hope to sign Luis Jiménez, probably on loan, if they beat off competition from Parma and they can obtain a work permit for a forward who has not played the required 75 per cent of matches for Chile in the past two years. The Mail claims Wolves could move for Calum Davenport after Coventry City captain Scott Dann rejected them in favour of joining Birmingham City for £3.5million. Also, Manchester City are ready to offer Micah Richards as bait for West Ham defender Matthew Upson according to the Star.

Finally, the England senior team have just about done their job, writes John Ley in this morning's Telegraph. Now it is the turn of the under-21s and, for Mark Noble, the forthcoming European Championship in Sweden offers the opportunity to expunge the misery of a penalty shoot-out defeat and the embarrassment of the tears that followed. The livid memories of that disappointment refuse to abate, particularly as they are repeatedly shown on television in the build-up to the tournament, which kicks off with England against Finland in Halmstad on Monday night. Noble scored both his penalties but England lost 13-12. "I've got caned for that over the past few days," he admits. "It seems every time we go for dinner there is a big telly up and homing in on my face crying. I was devastated. It was the emotion of thinking we were going to lose it, then they missed, then we're going to win it and we miss."

Now Noble prepares to bid farewell to under-21 action, possibly as captain, after leading the team to a 7-0 win over Azerbaijan in Milton Keynes on Monday night. While most thoughts are on South Africa, Noble warns against belittling the under-21 tournament, which England last won 25 years ago. "What I experienced there last time, and the amount of coverage it got, I was amazed. I'd only just broken into the West Ham team, and I would get noticed every now and then, but after that trip I went away on holiday with my girlfriend, to Cyprus, and everyone was saying 'unlucky Mark'. It was unbelievable."

Noble has good reason to want to avoid penalties this time around. As any West Ham fan would tell you, his last two at club level for were saved, against Hull and Chelsea. Yet, notes Ley, the youngster has a refreshing perspective when he considers spot-kicks. "I always think that I am privileged to be taking a penalty for West Ham," he said. "You go home and I've missed and I'm gutted, but you turn the news on and someone's just been shot in Iraq. I'm a West Ham fan and I know how important it is to West Ham fans but when you sit down and think about it, to miss a penalty is bad for me – I'm my worst critic – but there's a lot worse things going on in the world."

Given that Stuart Pearce, who missed a penalty against Germany in the World Cup in 1990, is England manager, penalties are understandably high on the agenda. As for this tournament, England have difficult games; after Finland they face Spain and then Germany, but the aim is understandable. "The only step for me now is to win it," added Noble. "I've been to the semi-final. I don't want to get to the final and lose, I want to get to the final and win it."


Stelios J said...

Another piece of insightful journalism... well, beautifully written, anyway. Class mate. Yours is my favourite Hammers' fans blog.

Trilby said...

Thanks Stelios- if I can't be perceptive, I'll take beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for good stuff

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Anonymous said...

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