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The Wimbledon chairman Sam Hammam
"We were losing harmony with my partners"
 real 28k

The BBC's Alaistair Yeomans
"Hamman took them all the way to the old first division in just nine years"
 real 28k

Friday, 25 February, 2000, 13:50 GMT
Hammam sells Wimbledon stake

Hammam has resisted attempts to sell his top players

Wimbledon supremo Sam Hammam has announced he is cutting his financial ties with the club after 23 years at the helm.

In two years and eight months he (Bjorn Gjelsten) was able to attend only one home game. He was unable to come to the office or the training ground

Sam Hammam
Hammam is selling the remainder of his shares to Bjorn Rune Gjelsten, one of the the club's two millionaire backers, and will be giving up day-to-day control.

It marks the end of a power struggle between Hammam and Gjelsten and his partner Kjell-Inge Rokke, to whom Hammam sold 80% of his shares in 1997.

Hammam admitted his relationship with the Norwegian duo had become strained in recent months.

"Unfortunately, things from a Wimbledon point of view did not work out like the brochure promised," said Hammam.

Hammam fostered Wimbledon's famous Crazy Gang spirit
"Kjell became entangled in many things and was unable to give any love or attention to Wimbledon.

"In two years and eight months he was able to attend only one home game. He was unable to come to the office or the training ground.

"Bjorn was far too busy running the empire and could only give his attention in dribs and drabs, mainly over the phone."

I will not sell key players. I will run the club in Sam's spirit and the way Sam has planned

Bjorn Rune Gjelsten
In the past Hammam has disagreed with their plans to sell several of the club's top class players to pay off club debts.

Hammam has pledged to stay on as a director and to offer advice to his successor.

"It's very likely I'll still be calling the shots and having a lot to say in how things happen, but it's only right that the new owners of the club should have an impact.

"They are not just anybody; they are two of the most able people in Europe."

Gjelsten: Role unclear
The Lebanon-born businessman bought the club in 1977, taking Wimbledon from non-league football to the First Division in just nine years.

They have not been relegated since and were shock winners of the FA Cup in 1988 when they beat Liverpool.

Kjelsten will be assuming a degree of control but the long-term plans are unclear.

"I will answer the key question before it is asked. I will not sell key players," he said.

"I will run the club in Sam's spirit and the way Sam has planned this season and the coming season."

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Wimbledon: Hammam's new man
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Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.