Meet Daniel Kretinsky, West Ham’s second-majority shareholder

Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky has purchased a 27% stake in West Ham in a deal worth about £180m-£200m, making him the second-largest shareholder.

Kretinsky, who co-owns Sparta Prague, and his colleague Pavel Horsky have been appointed to the board, joining among others the joint-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold and vice-chair Karren Brady.

The deal has reduced Sullivan’s shareholding from 51.5% to 38.8%, Gold’s by 10% to 25.1% and Tripp Smith’s by 2% to 8%, with the number of shares in the hands of other investors falling from 3.4% to 1.1%.

“I am delighted this detailed process has now been successfully concluded,” he said. “I am passionate about football. I greatly appreciate and respect the exceptional history and tradition of West Ham United as well as its loyal and passionate supporter base and also the highly inspiring role it plays in many social programmes and initiatives.”

A club statement on Wednesday said that the agreement would help to reduce the club’s “long-term debt” and “direct funds into other key areas of focus”. The Hammers are currently riding high in the Premier League table with Sunday’s 3-2 win over Liverpool lifting them into third position. But who is the man who has piled over £180m into West Ham?

Wikipedia and describes the 46-year-old as a Czech billionaire businessman and lawyer, who is the chief executive officer (CEO) and 94% owner of Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH), the largest energy group in Central Europe,[ co-owner and president of football club AC Sparta Prague and director of English football club West Ham United.

Kretinsky started his professional life as a lawyer but has built a titanic empire which covers gas lines, coal-fired power stations, swathes of European media as well as Sainsbury’s and the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom. Kretinsky is reported to be “obsessed” with British history.

According to Forbes and online casino South Africa, Kretinsky’s current net-worth is $4billion – roughly £2.9billion. His partner, Olympian Anna Kellernova, is the daughter of Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year and at the time of his death was the country’s richest man with an estimated personal wealth of $17.5b.

The specific impact of his takeover on Gold, Sullivan and Smith’s stakes in the club is still unclear. However, it is obvious now that there has been a shift in their attitudes towards external investment in the club. Two approaches from an American consortium were rebuffed in the summer of 2020, while a £400m bid from PAI Capital was dismissed as “derisory” by Sullivan in July.