West Ham's owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has taken a step towards selling the club after receiving several provisional offers.
Although the Icelandic financier has yet to make a final decision about selling up, he has given permission for non-disclosure agreements to be signed with up to five potential buyers.
The agreements, binding in law, allow the interested parties to look at confidential financial information about West Ham on the condition they do not disclose it. However, the agreements fall short of due diligence, which gives prospective buyers full access to the club's accounts.
Several of those interested have put in opening bids but have fallen well short of the amount Gudmundsson would want.
According to court documents in Iceland filed by his holding company Hansa, he values West Ham at £250million. No binding offers have yet been made to Gudmundsson, who bought the club for £85million only two years ago.
Hansa has gone into voluntary liquidation and Gudmundsson is in talks with the Icelandic government and banks about how to restructure his assets, including West Ham.
In terms of the playing staff and management, the Hammers are in an upbeat mood after Sunday's draw at Chelsea, despite the uncertainty over the future ownership.
A club source told PA Sport: "There have been expressions of interest but everyone at the club remains very focused on the job in hand and producing results on the field."
Asgeir Fridgeirsson, West Ham's vice-chairman, confirmed recently that Gudmundsson was considering selling.
Fridgeirsson said last month: "West Ham is one of Hansa's properties and the owner is looking at all chances regarding a sale."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.