Thursday 29 September 2016

Taxpayers owed explanation over West Ham deal for Olympic Stadium - campaigners

Published 15/04/2016 | 04:36

Campaigners have called for an explanation over the deal which will see West Ham rent the Olympic Stadium for £2.5m per year
Campaigners have called for an explanation over the deal which will see West Ham rent the Olympic Stadium for £2.5m per year

Taxpayers deserve an explanation for the £2.5million per year deal which will see West Ham lease the Olympic Stadium, campaigners say.

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The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the publicly-funded authority which owns the stadium, on Thursday published its full deal with West Ham, who will take up their 99-year tenancy in August.

TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said the contract was "ludicrously generous" and "the deal of the century".

He added: "Those of us footing the bills deserve a proper explanation."

Former Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn says his dog could have negotiated a better deal than the one which will see the Hammers pay £48,000 per week.

LLDC must also provide the goalposts and corner flags and is responsible for costs associated with maintenance, policing, cleaning and pest control at the 60,000-seat arena.

Hearn, who failed in a bid for Orient to share the stadium, told BBC Sport: "(West Ham) negotiated a good deal. I can't say the same for the LLDC who should go back to negotiation school.

"My dog could have negotiated a better deal for the taxpayer."

An Information Tribunal on Monday rejected LLDC's appeal against a London Assembly ruling that the contract between it and the Premier League club should be made public.

LLDC, responsible for transforming venues used for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, did not appeal and the contract was published in full on Thursday. A redacted version was made available last October.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who oversaw the Gunners' move from Highbury to the £390m, 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium and the accompanied straitened spending, last week compared West Ham's deal to winning the lottery.

Tottenham lost their bid to be lead tenant of the Olympic Stadium and are now building their own stadium adjacent to their White Hart Lane home at an estimated cost of £750m.

And football finance expert Rob Wilson, of Sheffield Hallam University, says it is clear why some of the Hammers' Premier League rivals might complain about the deal.

Wilson told Press Association Sport: "They've really got it for a steal. Anything £5m and upwards would have been an appropriate figure that would probably give better value to the taxpayer.

"You can probably understand why some of West Ham's closest competitors in the Premier League are saying this is competitively unfair. They've got much more disposable income."

LLDC's objection to the publication of the contract was based around securing future business for the multi-purpose venue on the 340 days a year when West Ham are not playing. That would include hosting music concerts, for example.

The stadium will host the 2017 IAAF and IPC Athletics World Championships and there is a 50-year agreement for British Athletics to use the venue each July.

The transformation of the venue from its Olympic and Paralympic condition cost £272m, with West Ham contributing £15m.

The Hammers will pay an annual rent of £2.5m for 25 matches - or £1.25m if they fall out of the top flight - with a £100,000 fee for any additional match.

Performance-related payments are in place, including a £1m fee for winning the Champions League.

The first £4m of any naming rights for the stadium will go to LLDC, with any figure above that split 50-50 between LLDC and West Ham.

LLDC would receive between £9m and £90m if West Ham were sold, although co-chairman David Sullivan and David Gold have no intention of offloading the club.

Revenue from catering and stadium tours would also go to LLDC.

West Ham said in a statement: "We firmly believe it is a great deal for both West Ham United and also the taxpayer."

Press Association

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