KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 – Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes (pic) is poised to launch a takeover of English Premier League club West Ham United this week, the Daily Telegraph newspaper has reported from London.
The newspaper said that Fernandes, a lifelong supporter of West Ham, could be announced as the club’s new owner before this Sunday’s league match at home to Wolves.
As recently as last month, Fernandes had ruled out any plans to immediately launch a bid for the club. But the British daily said the Air Asia boss has now finally decided he wants to invest in the club.
Fernandes has been having sporadic talks about taking a stake in West Ham for several months now. But he told Singapore’s The Straits Times in December that he had ruled out making a bid for the club as he is busy running an F1 team — the 45-year-old is Lotus’ team principal for next season.
The paper also revealed that he held detailed discussions with West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt on a previous occasion, but apparently they did not bear fruit.
The Daily Telegraph has now reported that talks with Bernhardt have continued and, it is believed, Fernandes has finally decided that he wants to invest in the club.
Two other bidders have submitted offers. Last week David Sullivan, the former Birmingham City co-owner, underwent the second stage of the due diligence process. On Monday night the Intermarket Group claimed it had met Rothschild, the bank that has been engaged by Bernhardt to sift through the offers, and will formally submit a bid in writing today, the Daily Telegraph said.
But the newspaper said that it is Fernandes’s bid that has caused the greatest excitement given his track-record for innovative ideas, flair and growing businesses as well as his passion for sport.
The businessman is also firmly committed to supporting manager Gianfranco Zola and met the Italian after the Boxing Day victory over Portsmouth.