Bywater Signs New Deal

West Ham United is pleased to announce that their England Under-21 goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, has signed a new long-term contract that will keep him at the Upton Park until at least 2007.

Stephen, had always insisted that he wanted to sign a new deal when his current contract expired. Unfortunately, a new contract could not be finalised until West Ham United had satisfactorily renegotiated the terms of the original transfer agreement with Rochdale.

Under the terms of the original deal, West Ham United would have been potentially required to pay Rochdale £2.4 million depending on the number of appearances made by Stephen.

However, since he first joined the Club in February 1998, the transfer market has changed significantly so it was essential those terms were renegotiated.

West Ham United was able to reach an agreement with Rochdale to pay a figure that more accurately reflected the current transfer market and values.

Managing Director, Paul Aldridge, said: "After protracted discussions I'm delighted that the Club has finally reached an agreement with Rochdale and we were able to offer Stephen a new deal that he readily signed.

"He is one of the country's most highly-rated young goalkeepers and has done a magnificent job since taking over from David James."

Stephen, who made his Hammers debut in the sensational 5-4 Premiership match against Bradford City at Upton Park in February 2000, took over as first-choice 'keeper when England¹s number one, David James, was transferred to Manchester City in January 2004.

He went on to make 23 senior appearances for the Hammers last season and is destined for a big future in the game.