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XL collapse will not restrict Zola's spending

PUBLISHED: 14:08 18 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:38 05 October 2010

West Ham could take a £4m hit following the collapse of their sponsor XL – but the club have promised that Gianfranco Zola will still be given the funds to excel as manager at Upton Park.

West Ham could take a £4m hit following the collapse of their sponsor XL - but the club have promised that Gianfranco Zola will still be given the funds to excel as manager at Upton Park.

The Hammers are currently searching for a new partner after XL Airways went into administration last week, terminating a three-year £7.5m sponsorship deal with the club that was signed only last year.

West Ham owner Bjorgulfur Gudmundsson has also been personally hit by the Crawley-based company's collapse.

Gudmundsson is the major shareholder of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, which financed a management buyout of XL in 2006.

The Hammers will now be forced to search for a major new sponsor amid tougher worldwide economic conditions.

But club officials are adamant that this development will not affect the club's transfer spending under Zola, who has been promised the funds to "build a team" at Upton Park.

The Italian has pledged to assemble a squad capable of playing the free-flowing football traditionally associated with West Ham, announcing at his opening press conference last week that he wants to recruit "as many quality players as possible".

Hammers chief executive Scott Duxbury has revealed that the club will back his vision in the transfer market.

"Gianfranco has made it quite clear that it's not just him - it's about building a team around him and that's what we'll do," said Duxbury.

"It won't be a cheap option because we will be building a team around him that can move the club forward."

Former manager Alan Curbishley was given significant sums to reshape the team when he was appointed in 2006, but the club spent little in the summer transfer window and sold nearly £20m worth of talent.

The collapse of XL has raised fears that the club will be forced to embark on a new wave of cost cutting, but financial director Nick Igoe has insisted that last week's developments will not affect Zola's transfer budget.

The club will continue to trim the first-team squad of fringe players in January but the club's ability to finance quality signings remains unaffected.

"We are in an excellent financial state," said Igoe. "This is unfortunate timing - we did our dealings in the summer as it is prudent to do. But we had some wind of this and we have been talking to people about the possibility of replacing XL. We will now begin to accelerate that.

"There has been a £30m investment from the owner to fund the playing squad. That is a big, big commitment.


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