West Ham

West Ham waiting for government to approve Daniel Kretinsky investment

West Ham's London Stadium is playing a part in investment talks
West Ham's London Stadium is playing a part in investment talks / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

West Ham are waiting on government approval so they can finalise a substantial investment from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, 90min has learned.

Terms have already been agreed between Kretinsky and majority owner David Sullivan which will see the 46-year-old - who also owns 40% of Sparta Prague and is their president - become the club's second highest shareholder, owning just under a 30% stake in the club.

But while an agreement is fully in place with the Hammers, government sign-off is required to complete the deal.

The hold-up concerns West Ham's renting of the London Stadium from E20 - a company set up by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to manage the stadium following the conclusion of the 2012 Olympic Games.

When negotiating their move to London Stadium in March 2013, securing in the process a 99-year lease worth just £2.5m in rent annually, West Ham agreed to a ten-year clause which says Sullivan and David Gold - the club's other majority shareholder - must pay a percentage to London's taxpayers of any profit they make on a sale of 10% shareholding or more. Were the duo to sell in full before March 2023 - the expiry date of said clause - around 20% would go to the taxpayer.

Furthermore, any deal must also be approved by E20, which in turn passes onto the government because it is publicly owned. 90min understands that process has been in motion for the past few weeks, and means the current landlords will be due a payment from West Ham if Kretinsky's investment is to be approved.

Who is Daniel Kretinsky?

Kretinsky is a Czech-born businessman - worth an estimated £2.9bn according to Forbes - who has involvement in not only football, but also in the energy, retail and public sectors among others.

He first invested in football back in 2004 when he bought a 40% shareholding in Sparta Prague, and immediately became their president - a position he holds to this day. They are regulars participants in Champions League qualifying and have won the Czech First League four times since he invested.

Previously, Kretinsky joined a Central European private equity firm called J&T, and in 2009 they founded a Prague-based company (EPH) that invests in energy across Europe. The group's assets now include power stations, railways and coal mines across the continent, including in the UK.

He is also the largest single shareholder in J Sainsbury, has significant stakes in Royal Mail, Foot Locker and Macy's, and his empire also extends into the media - he owns one of the Czech Republic's largest companies and has a healthy investment in French newspaper Le Monde.

West Ham's agreement with Kretinsky will see the club release more shares, diluting the current shareholders, and will allow the money coming into the club from their new investor to benefit the club as well as the existing shareholders.

The deal is also set to make the club debt free moving forward - a big milestone.

It is a hugely significant and promising step for the Hammers, who are also making great progress on the field under David Moyes - who celebrated his 1,000th game as a professional manager in the 2-2 draw with Genk on Thursday.

The last 18 months has been somewhat of a whirlwind for the club, who have successfully transitioned from relegation candidates - whom many tipped to go down - to a side already through to at least the play-off round of the Europa League after bagging 10 points from a possible 12 in Group H.

West Ham are also sitting pretty in the Premier League's top four as it stands, taking 20 points from a possible 30, and knocked holders Manchester City out of the Carabao Cup in a dramatic penalty shootout - roared on by a sell-out crowd. They face Tottenham in the quarter-finals on 22 December.