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By ESPN Staff

Hammers takeover talk steps up a gear

Israeli businessman Eli Papoushado has confirmed has interest in investing in 'football projects' with Kia Joorabchian, heightening speculation of a takeover at West Ham.

Joorabchian, the 35-year-old Anglo-Iranian entrepreneur who facilitated the club's signing of Argentinians Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, has been linked with a move for the Premiership club.

Joorabchian was reported to be looking for partners to help fund his £100million bid, of which £70million is needed to buy shares and £30million to clear the Hammers' debt.

In a statement released yesterday, Papoushado said: 'This is to confirm that Mr Kia Joorabchian has spoken to me about leading a consortium of investors in football projects.

'After considerable thought, I have agreed to participate if Kia decides to go forward with any such project.'

Papoushado founded the Red Sea Group in the 1960s and made his fortune through property and hotels.

Papoushado has given no indication that a bid for West Ham is imminent and added: 'I would like to confirm that I will not be taking part in any management but will be solely an investor.

'This statement does not suggest that there will or will not be a project in the near future, just a clarification of reports about my involvement as a potential investor with Mr Kia Joorabchian.'