West Ham in talks with Czech billionaire over £150m stake

West Ham United are in advanced discussion with Czech billionaire over a deal to buy a minority stake in the club, which could help alleviate the Hammers’ debt and pave the way for January spending.

West Ham co owners David Sullivan and David Gold have been looking for investment in the club and are discussing a £150million deal which would see Daniel Kretinsky buy a stake of around 27 per cent.

The deal would value West Ham at between £600m and £700m – around six times the price paid by Sullivan and Gold in 2010, when they inherited debts of £110m – and has raised the possibility of a full takeover by Kretinsky in future.

Known as the “Czech sphinx” for the dispassionate way he runs his business empire, the 46-year-old is the co-owner and president of Czech club Sparta Prague, and has a number of other investments, including stakes in Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s and France’s Le Monde newspaper. The qualified lawyer’s fortune is valued at £2.9billion, according to Forbes.

Kretinsky’s investment will be welcomed by supporters and raises the possibility of funds for manager David Moyes to spend in the January transfer window and beyond.

After finishing sixth last season, Moyes’s side are in the Premier League top four after nine matches, making seamless progress in the Europa League and reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night by eliminating holders Manchester City.

The club was hit hard by the pandemic, posting losses of £65m in the 12 months to May 2020, and a cash injection would also help alleviate West Ham’s debt, which Sullivan said stood at £150m in September.

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While there have been suggestions that Kretinsky’s deal could lead to an immediate buyout of Sullivan and Gold, the pair are expected to retain a majority stake until at least March 2023, when they would no longer be liable to pay any share of the profits from any sale to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which owns the London Stadium.

The Hammers rent the taxpayer-funded ground for £2.5m and this week received permission to install an extra 2,500 seats, bringing the total capacity to 62,500.

Sullivan owns 51.5 per cent of West Ham, Gold 35.1 per cent and Tripp Smith, an American financier, 10 per cent, with other investors holding 3.4 per cent.

Quizzed about the news on Friday, Moyes replied: “I do not know any more than you know but it sounds as if something is happening, yes.”

The Scot added: “I’ve had the feelgood factor here for over 12 months, ever since we got rid of the feeling that there was a chance of relegation.

“I think we’ve blossomed, and we’ve all become much better. I think it’s probably been hanging over West Ham for a couple of seasons, maybe longer, and I think we are feeling much better than that.

“We feel like we can be a side who can be different, a side who can be competitive in the league and hopefully in the cup competitions as well.”

The Hammers travel to Aston Villa on Sunday, with Moyes set to recall a number of players, including Declan Rice and Michail Antonio, who were rested against City.

Ben Johnson impressed against City and is expected to keep his place at right-back, although Vladimir Coufal returned from a groin injury with a late cameo in midweek.

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