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Why Czech investment could have ‘massive’ implications for West Ham


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est Ham’s ecstatic fans bellowed “We are massive”, as they watched their buoyant team beat Liverpool on Sunday while, up in the VIP section, the club’s newest shareholder looked on impassively.

“Massive” may just be overdoing things a little at this point, but West Ham’s profile has suddenly become significantly higher following Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky’s purchase of a 27 per cent stake in the club for what is thought to be more than £180million.

Kretinsky’s investment makes him the second largest shareholder after David Sullivan, who has 38.8 per cent, and his investment will help pay down the club’s debt, which stands at £150m following a loss of £64.7m last year.

There is a growing feeling among West Ham fans that, after years — decades even — of bubbles flying before fading and dying, their club is finally on the cusp of something special.

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There does remain a hint of anxiety that, from past experience, things could implode at any moment, but nevertheless growing optimism that this year’s spectacular upward curve will continue.

The 46-year-old Kretinsky, who also holds stakes in Royal Mail and Sainsbury’s, as well as Sparta Prague, could follow his initial investment with a full takeover bid in the future, but for the moment he is content to buy into the outstanding club success story of the Premier League so far this season.

If he had any doubts about his choice of investment, they will have surely receded as he sat in the London Stadium watching David Moyes’s team unsettle and finally unhinge Liverpool.

“I know it is an incredible time to become part of the West Ham United family,” he said in a statement. “I feel privileged to now have the opportunity to help everyone here build on the proud traditions of this great club.”

That will be music to the ears of long-suffering Hammers fans, who have endured a difficult stadium move, erratic player recruitment and near-relegation in recent seasons.


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