And so West Ham finally decided to step off the Train to the Clouds and join the Polar Express instead. On Tuesday morning the club released a statement to the Stock Exchange "confirming acceptance from the major shareholders of an £85million offer" from an Icelandic consortium led by tabloid photographer's delight Eggert Magnusson and backed largely by funds emanating from his countryman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson.
Eggert is certainly saying all the right things:
I am here to serve and to do all that I can to deliver genuine success... Terry Brown and his fellow Directors have done a great job... we are buying what we see, which is West Ham United at Upton Park... this is a football deal... [manager Alan Pardew] has my full confidence and support... we must not forget the club's great traditions... Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, small boys in the park with jumpers for goalposts.
Well, alright, not that last bit, but at least he isn't going on about how these things always present an opportunity for a real estate deal or suddenly parachuting in startled looking Argentinian superstars of uncertain loyalties. Eggert seems to be pleasing both the fans and the media who always seemed deeply suspicious of the failed bid for the club led by Kia Joorabchian, who may now turn his attentions elsewhere. He told the Daily Telegraph:
I will not do it just for the sake of owning a team... If I feel I cannot improve a club, and that means putting in at least £100 million to fund new players to allow the team to compete with the big clubs, then I just won't do it.
Hollow words, possibly, but he hints at the reality that will follow the initial euphoria. Hammers fans will expect to see a more ambitious club competing regularly for a European place and that does not come cheap. Joorabchian reckons he found £13m already owing on transfers in the club's books and reports suggest the Icelanders are putting in about £22.5m on top of the headline sum to cover the club's debts. We'd expect them to want to start recouping some of their investment before too long which leaves us wondering, despite the positive noises, what funds will be left for Pardew to strengthen the playing squad.
On the other hand, maybe Pardew doesn't want any. He chose to speak of the pleasure of stability following all the recent uncertainty, as Joorabchian's playing acolytes, Argentinian world cup stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, were doubtless busy pondering a fresh destination early in the New Year, a shame given that they were finally beginning to get the hang of the English game. We wonder how much it would cost to buy them back?
Picture of the Strokkur geyser via Pétur Gauti's Flickr stream.