Monday, August 22, 2005


Corinthians, Kia, and West Ham United

As you may know, the proposed £200 million takeover bid by Kia Joorabchian isn't the first sporting venture the Iranian has attempted.

The 34-year-old businessman owns the Brasilian team Corinthians. Since he took over that club they have made record signings, but fans and the manager Tite haven't been entirely happy with the situation. "Kia brought me players I didn't want - that's why there was an incompatibility between us," said Tite.

Things weren't helped by the oligarch marching down to the dressing room following a 5-1 defeat, and giving a verbal serving to the players and Tite, who later said, "The dressing-room is a sacred place and is not where the club hierarchy should do their business."

He was sacked within a week. His replacement, none other than former Argentina national coach Daniel Passarella, lasted just 15 games. He made the mistake of criticising one of Joorabchian's player purchases and was sacked two days later. He now claims that the club has not paid him fully. The new coach Marcio Bittencourt- most likely in the interests of self-preservation - has said, "Kia is always supportive and takes an interest in us."

The players aren't too impressed either, and there have been reports of discontent within the side, including punch-ups on the training field. One player told a Brasilian newspaper, "Kia doesn't know anything about football." Despite this, and a poor start to the season, Corinthians are now heading for the pointy end of the league table.

Joorabchian's interest in West Ham United has upset Corinthians' president Alberto Dualib, who is angry about hearing of the interest through the media. He said, "He is using Corinthians to present himself as a Mr Football abroad. How can a small club like West Ham be worth six times as much as the biggest club in Brazil?" (As much as that comment irks me, I'll refrain from comment!)

And now reports say that due to the imminent takeover bid, West Ham are legally unable to make new player purchases despite recent claims on the official website that it will be "business as usual". According to Tony Pullinger, Deputy Director-General of the so-called "Takeover Panel", a company cannot increase its price when a takeover is imminent. This includes the buying or selling of material assets, and in this case, that includes players. This has reportedly stopped Alan Pardew's proposed £6 million bid for prized Norwich striker Dean Ashton.

The Club, of course, are trying to get this decision overturned. If they fail, they will be in a precarious position, with the transfer window closing at the end of the month. Should Joorabchian have a change of heart West Ham will need to wait until January to bring in new players, and even if the takeover bid is successful the Club cannot take advantage of the promised transfer bounty until then.

Media Sports Investment, the firm Joorabchian is using for his bid, was created in September 2004 and has not yet filed any accounts or shareholder returns. However, the Iranian, who holds a British passport, also owns a car dealership and a gym in England, both of which are, of course, very small businesses in comparison to the Premiership club.

* Bobby Zamora has turned his back on the chance to play for Trinidad and Tobago at the World Cup in 2006, preferring to concentrate on West Ham's bid to remain in the Premiership. Trinidad and Tobago coach Leo Beenhakker approached Z-man, asking him to play in a qualifier against Guatemala next month, but the striker turned the offer down. "Trinidad is my dad's country and to play in the finals would be a dream but West Ham are more important," he said. "I am only thinking about the club at the moment and do not want to be distracted from that. The Trinidad manager went to the effort of watching me and asking the boss about me. But the club mean everything to me and if I can help us have a good season that is all that matters." Zamora earned six U21 caps for England in his youth.

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