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West Ham’s Sullivan, Gold Increase Their Stake in Club to 60%

West Ham co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold increased their stake in the English Premier League soccer team to 60 percent, the east London club said on its website.

Sullivan and Gold, who each bought 25 percent in January, bought an additional 10 percent from CB Holding, the previous owner, for 8 million pounds ($11.5 million), the Hammers said. Four million pounds will go to the club “to bridge the gap” in its finances, and 4 million pounds to CB.

Sullivan said the investment showed the co-chairmen’s long-term commitment to the club.

“Myself and David Gold are, like you, West Ham United fans and our aim is to ensure our club enjoys a stable and successful future,” he said. “To this end, we have both invested a further 4 million pounds to increase our shareholding to 30 percent each.”

In the season just finished, West Ham ended only one place above the relegation zone in the world’s richest soccer league. Coach Gianfranco Zola was fired May 11 after he’d come under criticism from Sullivan over the team’s performances. Former Chelsea and Portsmouth manager Avram Grant has been linked with the post in media reports.

Sullivan said he and Gold have a long-term aim of increasing their shareholding, and invited professional investors to “share in our vision” for the club. They also hope to give fans the chance to invest in the Hammers.

Straumur-Burdaras Investment Bank hf., nationalized by the Icelandic government in March 2009 after Iceland’s banking sector collapsed, took control of West Ham through the CB subsidiary when the club’s former owner, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, declared bankruptcy amid the credit crunch.

Sullivan and Gold’s purchase of a 50 percent stake in the Hammers in January valued the club at 105 million pounds, the team said at the time. Sullivan put the club’s debt at 110 million pounds after he and Gold took control.

The pair has a three-year option to buy the 40 percent still held by CB.

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