West Ham admit they will have to sell players before they can buy any new ones in the January transfer window, as the current economic problems experienced by the club’s owners begins to have an impact on the Premier League outfit.
Owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is a major shareholder in Landsbanki, which went into receivership on Tuesday.
“It is very unlikely he will be willing to put in more money to buy players this January window,” vice chairman Ausgeir Fridgeirsson told BBC Sport.
When asked whether boss Gianfranco Zola would have to sell before he could buy, Fridgeirsson said “exactly”.
Zola took over Alan Curbishley as West Ham manager last month and said he expected to be backed in the January transfer window.
“If we need to improve certain things I’m sure the board will back me,” the Italian said, adding that chief executive Scott Duxbury had told him changes in January would “not be a problem”.
Fridgeirsson insisted that reductions in the size of West Ham’s squad would allow Zola to deal in January.
Duxbury repeated the theme in a statement on the club’s official website.
“Since his appointment, Gianfranco Zola has made it quite clear that his first-team squad is too large and needs to be reduced so he can effectively coach the team,” Duxbury said.
“Once this has happened and if the manager requires further players, then the club will acquire them.
“Mr Gudmundsson remains fully committed to the success of this football club and building on the excellent start made by Gianfranco Zola.”.
Fridgeirsson denied that the plight of Landsbanki, Iceland’s second-biggest bank, meant Gudmundsson would be forced to sell West Ham.
“It has to be clear that even though he has been hurt in one of his investments, it will not have a direct impact on other investments, including West Ham,” Fridgeirsson said.
“As of today, there is no need for him to sell West Ham. He has already put £30m into the club since he bought it. He is not going to take any money out of the club.”
Fridgeirsson admitted that several potential buyers had expressed an interest in buying the club, but that they had been turned away.
“We have not been accepting any offers,” he said. “Agents have been contacting us and we have told them we are not interested.”