New West Ham owners keen to keep Zola

LONDON - David Gold and David Sullivan, the former owners of Birmingham City, have completed the takeover of Premier League club West Ham United and want the new Olympic Stadium to be the club's future home.

LONDON - David Gold and David Sullivan, the former owners of Birmingham City, have completed the takeover of Premier League club West Ham United and want the new Olympic Stadium to be the club's future home.

Icelandic bank Straumur said it had sold subsidiary CB Holding's 50percent stake in the club and that Sullivan and Gold would take immediate operational and commercial control. Gold moved quickly to quell speculation about the future of manager Gianfranco Zola while outlining his ambitions for the club, which is in a relegation battle.

"Categorically, he's staying," Gold told Sky Sports News. "I will sit down with him tonight to work on some transfer targets.

"We are West Ham fans, we have a seven-year plan to get them into the Champions League and turn them into a big club.

"We hope we can persuade the government to let us move to the Olympic Stadium, which is in the same borough. It's a natural home for West Ham United."

The long-term use of the 2012 Olympic Stadium is still unclear though London's winning bid for the Games stipulated that an athletics track would remain with the capacity of 80000 scaled down to 25000, a potential sticking point for a top-flight soccer club.

But the more pressing concern for West Ham fans will be the club's precarious league position.

They are 16th on the table with only goal difference keeping them out of the relegation zone. One leading British bookmaker on Monday suspended betting on Zola becoming the next Premier League manager to be sacked.

Sullivan backed the managerial set-up of Zola and former Chelsea assistant coach Steve Clarke, saying the goal was to stabilise the club after the uncertainty over its financial situation since the collapse of Iceland's banking system. - Reuters

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