07 October 2008

West Ham and the Iceland collapse

This is from The Political Economics of Sport (my emphasis):


Iceland could be the first country to go bankrupt since Newfoundland was absorbed by Canada after the Second World War. But at Icelandic-owned West Ham an air of benign calm reigned today, although below the surface there may be more turbulence. The Icelandic bank chaired by the club's billionaire owner was put into receivership by the Icelandic government. The family of Bjorogolfur Gudmundsson are reported to have owned over 40 per cent of Landsbanki, so their personal finances have taken a hit. Gudmundsson is Iceland's second-richest person, after his son Thor. Gudmundsson bought the East London club in November 2006 for £85m. He subsequently invested another £30.5m in December 2007 after buying a further 5 per cent stake. Gudmundsson was listed as one of the thousand richest men in the world in the 2007 Forbes Rich List. However, most of his money comes from outside Iceland. The sectors he is involved in include construction and shipping.

West Ham, already hit by the collapse of its shirt sponsor last month, said that the club was not for sale and that the owner remained 'as committed as ever' in spite of the financial services. A spokeswoman told wire services, 'All at the club remain focused on taking West Ham United forward and these developments have no implications and no impact for the club.' A senior board member is reported by BBC Sport to have said, 'One of Mr Gudmundsson's investments has gone bad, but he is still standing and has a lot of other investments.' Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Indian billionaire Anil Ambani was interested in buying the club and was told that it would be available for £150m..

Brad Evans