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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Caborn calls for takeover transparency

Sports minister Richard Caborn has called on the mystery bidders behind a possible takeover of West Ham to reveal their identities.

Caborn believes there should be much more openness surrounding football club takeovers, especially when foreign investors are involved.

UEFA have also called for an investigation into the growing trend of foreign money being invested in British clubs. West Ham are the latest club to be linked with a takeover, with businessman Kia Joorabchian and several foreign investors suggested as potential new owners.

Caborn said: 'I would urge those involved to be as open and transparent as possible.'

The issue of club ownership was covered by the recent European Sports Review, which also urged greater transparency and regulation.

Caborn added: 'As the Prime Minister pointed out recently, those aspects of the review that try to bring greater integrity to the way in which the financial transactions are conducted are especially worthwhile.'

The sports marketing firm Media Sports Investment, which used to headed by Joorabchian, is among those who have been linked with West Ham. The Iranian-born businessman was also behind the signings of Argentina internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

Coincidentally, the European Sport Review mentioned the possible influence of sports marketing companies on clubs in the report published just before the World Cup.

The review says: 'Given the growing financial importance of football it may be appropriate to tighten the existing regulations to cover the situation of possible de facto control of a club, for example by a sponsor or sports marketing company.

'It seems appropriate to impose additional disclosure obligations to declare true ownership details and cashflows derived from important commercial partners.'

West Ham have confirmed they have held 'exploratory' discussions which could be followed up by a bid.

Manchester United and Aston Villa are now owned by American money, with Malcolm Glazer and Randy Lerner at the helm.