Hammer blows

THE FOREIGN invasion taking over at the top of English football looks set to continue with latest developments at West Ham. Manchester United and Aston Villa are already firmly in American hands, while Russian millionaires dictate the fortunes of Chelsea and Portsmouth.

In East London an Arab consortium headed up by Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian is currently vying for ownership of the Hammers, with rival Icelandic bidder Eggert Magnusson. However, all is not well at Upton Park, precarious league form apart.

The raised eyebrows caused by the mysterious Argentine transfers at the beginning of the season must be giving way to painful grimaces with the news that Joorabchian is facing charges of wholesale money laundering at Brazilian club Corinthians. As if that were not enough, it has emerged that the financial muscle behind the second suitor, one Björgólfur Gudmundsson, once received a jail sentence for his part in the collapse of an Icelandic shipping firm. The financier was charged on 450 criminal counts that included fraud and embezzlement, but was only convicted of five minor book-keeping offences resulting in a suspended term of incarceration.

Are these really the right people to own and run big business, multi-million pound Premiership football clubs in a country where a simple county court judgment relating to an unpaid gas bill prevents you and I from obtaining a mortgage?