Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is close to purchasing a significant stake in West Ham United with a view to a full takeover, reports claim.
West Ham have been owned by David Gold and David Sullivan since 2010. The co-chairmen could be about to relinquish some control, though, in the latest shift in the ownership of a Premier League club.
According to Sky News, Kretinsky is in “advanced talks” to take a 27% stake in the club. It is predicted that an announcement could arrive by the first weekend of November, around the time of West Ham’s game against Liverpool.
The report claims the club is valued somewhere between £600m and £700m, which is around double what the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund paid to take over Newcastle United recently.
It also surpasses the estimation received in two bids over the summer from PAI Capital that did not meet the valuation of majority owner Sullivan.
There may be the option for Kretinsky to take full control of West Ham after a period of time. The deal is going through in stages, though, due to a clause with the landlords of the London Stadium, of which West Ham have been tenants since 2016, The Athletic report.
Gold and Sullivan would have to pay a percentage of any profit on selling the club to London’s taxpayers, as agreed with the London Legacy Development Corporation. The clause expires in March 2023.
Kretinsky, 46, is the CEO of EPH, which is central Europe’s largest energy group. He has a net worth, as per Forbes, of $4bn.
Known as the “Czech Sphinx”, he is already the largest shareholder in Royal Mail and the second largest in Sainsbury’s.
Kretinsky also has experience within the football industry. In fact, he is the owner of Sparta Prague and has been since 2004.
There is already a Czech contingent within the West Ham playing squad. Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal have been success stories since their transfers from Sparta’s rivals Slavia Prague. Alex Kral is also currently on loan at the London Stadium.
Off the pitch, Kretinsky could soon be joining them. According to The Athletic, the deal has been in the pipeline for months.
Their report says this could be the “beginning of the end” for the GSB era, which refers to Gold, Sullivan and vice-chair Karren Brady.