West Ham takeover: Tony Fernandes and David Sullivan lead the race
TONY FERNANDES: The Malaysian is the most exciting and innovative of West Ham's potential owners. Aged 45, he is the chief executive of Air Asia, the continent's biggest budget airline but is also a true entrepreneur owning hotels, becoming team principal of the new Lotus Formula One outfit and wanting to launch his own record label. Has often been likened to Sir Richard Branson and started out his business career, after graduating from the London School of Economics, working for the Virgin tycoon. The two men are now firm friends and business partners in an airline venture. Fernandes, a warm character, is a passionate West Ham supporter even though he lives in Kuala Lumpur and attends as many matches as he can. He has a relaxed style and manner and is often seen in his trademark baseball cap. DAVID SULLIVAN: It's debatable whether Sullivan is best-known for his long, often controversial, co-ownership of Birmingham City or for his porn empire. Had a fractious relationship with the Birmingham supporters, feeling under-appreciated at times after dragging the club from financial ruin up to the top division. Criticised for failing to invest he, and co-owner David Gold, maintained that they were not going to be reckless with their cash. Said to be worth more than £600 million. A lifelong West Ham supporter but the 60-year-old businessman isn't allowing his heart to rule his head. Had a difficult last year in charge of Birmingham, and a fraught relationship with manager Alex McLeish before finally selling out to Carson Yeung. He is including long-term associate Gold in his bid, but Sullivan is the driving force. MASSIMO CELLINO: The Italian is a late arrival on the scene. He registered his interest in West Ham some time ago, but only followed that up this week when he flew into London for talks. The 53 year-old, who is based in Miami but whose son, Hercules, recently moved to London to study, bought the Italian club Cagliari in 1992 and remains its owner and president. He also brought Gianfranco Zola back to his native Sardinia to end his playing career, but doesn't feel the former striker is cut out to be a manager. At Cagliari he got through 22 managers in 18 years. Cellino's wealth has come from the cereals and grains business and he was involved in a high-profile case when he was accused of attempting to defraud the European Commission.The case ended in a plea bargain but under Italian law this is not always regarded as an admission of guilt. INTERMARKET GROUP: A Canary-Wharf based finance house, they declared their interest some time ago but have not helped their cause by remaining faceless and refusing to divulge their backers. Have also struggling to provide proof of funds but suffered a terrible setback last weekend with the death of chief executive, Jim Bowe, who had fronted the bid.
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