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West Ham United Hires Avram Grant as Manager, Replacing Zola

West Ham United appointed Avram Grant as manager on a four-year contract today, a month after the club avoided relegation from the English Premier League by one position.

Grant, who coached Portsmouth to the F.A. Cup final last season, will join subject to receiving a work permit, the east London-based team said on its website. The Israeli will replace Gianfranco Zola, who was fired May 11.

“This is a fantastic club with great fans and a history that is respected around the world,” Grant told the website. “I am already looking forward to getting to work with my players in July and preparing for the new season.”

Speculation that Grant would be the club’s new manager mounted over the past month, and intensified after he resigned his post at relegated Portsmouth on May 20.

“I have to say, having met Avram and spent some time with him, that we have got our man,” said the team’s co-owner David Gold. “He is a perfect fit.”

Grant and business partner David Sullivan increased their stake in West Ham to 60 percent on May 25. They took over the club after agreeing to purchase 50 percent from CB Holding in January. That company assumed control after previous owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson declared bankruptcy last year.

Zola was fired two days after the end of the Premier League season. The owners had publicly criticized the team’s performances after taking over, angering Zola and some players.

“We are looking forward to next season with new players coming in and Avram’s arrival is just the latest reason for optimism,” said Gold.

Grant, 55, has also coached Chelsea in the Premier League and led the Blues to the Champions League final in 2008, where they were beaten on penalties by Manchester United.

He was appointed Portsmouth manager in November amid a financial crisis at the south coast team. The club was penalized nine points after becoming the first in the top division to seek bankruptcy protection.

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