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May 6, 2009

West Ham owner Gudmundsson reveals £301m debts

The necessity for West Ham United to be sold this summer was laid bare on Wednesday when Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the club's Icelandic chairman and owner, revealed that he has personal liabilities of £301m and could even lose his home in Reykjavik as a result of his failed financial dealings.

A consortium of creditors led by Icelandic bank Straumur - itself mired by financial troubles - are in talks about a takeover at Upton Park, though control may end up in the hands of an asset management company appointed by the Icelandic government.

Whoever ends up in control, Gudmundsson's situation is so bad that his creditors are understood to be keen to cash in on one of his few remaining assets, chief amongst which is his holding company HANSA, through which he controls West Ham - all that is needed is someone to make a competitive offer for the club.

''The situation is very bad. I have everything on the line - personal liability extends to all of my assets. I'm left with the question, what is my position? I must admit that I'm a little lost,'' Gudmundsson told Icelandic newspaper Morgunbladid.

Asked whether he would even lose his palatial Reykjavik mansion, Gudmundsson admitted: ''I just don't know what I will be able to keep.''

Despite ongoing concerns over the West Ham's ownership and financial health, the club remain confident of meeting the conditions required to receive a UEFA Club licence and will submit the necessary paperwork to the Premier League and FA in time for the May 31 deadline.

Without the licence, which is obtained by satisfying a number of legal, financial and administrative conditions, the Hammers would be barred from competing in next season's Europa League, should they qualify for the inaugural version of the revamped UEFA Cup.

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