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Icelandic owner will not spend big money

PUBLISHED: 11:23 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:19 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG WEST Ham chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has warned fans not to expect big-name signings this summer in a major change to the transfer policy at Upton Park. Gudmundsson has spent heavily since taking control of the club in 2006, breakin

By JONATHAN CLEGG

WEST Ham chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has warned fans not to expect big-name signings this summer in a major change to the transfer policy at Upton Park.

Gudmundsson has spent heavily since taking control of the club in 2006, breaking the transfer record to sign Craig Bellamy last year and smashing the wage structure to complete deals for Lucas Neill and Freddie Ljungberg.

But the Icelandic billionaire has put the freeze on his free-spending ways in a dramatic shift to the way the club do business.

Gudmundsson believes that manager Alan Curbishley has an experienced group of first-team players capable of challenging for European football if they overcome their injury problems next season.

"Although certainly less eventful than the previous season I have been pleased with our progress and it gives the club a platform from which to progress further," said Gudmundsson.

"I share the frustration expressed by Alan about the scale of our injuries but endorse his view that the squad he has assembled should be given a chance to play together while allowing the exciting young talents emerging from our academy to establish themselves in the first-team squad."

The Hammers will now concentrate on identifying bright prospects to supplement the existing squad and will look to sign promising youngsters rather than household names this summer.

Gudmundsson wants West Ham to emulate the model used by rivals Tottenham, who have succeeded in capturing talented young players like Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson for small fees - and watching their values skyrocket.

The club have appointed Gianluca Nani as technical director to oversee the new transfer policy and the Italian has a history of uncovering hidden gems from his time at Brescia.

The Italian played a key role in developing the careers of Italy stars Andrea Pirlo and Luca Toni while also spotting talented players like Brazil international Matuzalem, Ghana captain Stephen Appiah and Napoli dynamo Marek Hamsik.

"The appointment of Gianluca Nani, with the full cooperation and support of Alan, will help us to further our commitment to developing the West Ham United heroes of the future and building a team capable of challenging for major honours," Gudmundsson said.

Nani will be given funds to recruit promising kids this summer but Curbishley's spending will be limited, despite asking the board for a £15million transfer kitty at the club's end-of-season board meeting.

The Hammers boss was also left in no doubt that Gudmundsson expects to see a major improvement in the team's results next year having sanctioned a full-scale investigation into the club's medical set-up in a bid to end the injury epidemic.

"When I first purchased West Ham I was keen to emphasise my long-term commitment to building the club," said Gudmundsson.

"To this end the club has invested at net £40m in the squad - and I hope that next season we will finally see a settled side with a realistic chance of competing for honours.


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