MX23RW : Sunday, December 16 20:52:57

London Stadium owners spend £4m of taxpayers’ money on disputes with West Ham

The club have been embroiled in a number of wrangles with their landlords since 2016.

Legal disputes with West Ham have cost the owners of the London Stadium around £4million of taxpayers’ money over the last three years.

The astonishing figure came to light as new London Legacy Development Corporation chief executive Lyn Garner faced the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee.

West Ham have been embroiled in various wrangles with their landlords since they moved into the former Olympic Stadium in 2016, involving issues ranging from capacity and stewarding to the sale of draught beer and the colour of the carpet which surrounds the pitch.

Gerry Murphy, the LLDC’s executive director of financial, commercial and corporate services, also reiterated that West Ham’s rent does not even cover the cost of staging their own matches, claiming the taxpayer stumps up around £111,000 per match after income is taken into consideration.

However, West Ham’s rent has actually risen from the £2.59m quoted by Murphy to £3m per year, and the club have long since maintained the match-day cost figure does not take into account that increase as well as catering revenue and commercial opportunities.

Nevertheless the stadium’s “dire financial performance”, according to the London Assembly, remains under scrutiny.

West Ham agreed the tenancy agreement with the LLDC in 2013 under previous London mayor Boris Johnson’s administration, and last year current mayor Sadiq Khan announced he was taking control of the stadium after a report established it was losing about £20m a year.

After the meeting Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon tweeted: “The more I hear about the Olympic Stadium contract with West Ham the more frustrated I get.

“Boris’ team signed this off and currently we are told each match day costs the taxpayer around £250k in subsidy…… unbelievable.

“The only winners are the lawyers in the disputes between West Ham and the LLDC re Olympic stadium use. £4m in legal fees with West Ham in last 3 years. You couldn’t make this up!”

In a statement Len Duvall, deputy chair of the budget and performance committee, said: “It’s about time the London Legacy Development Corporation and West Ham put aside their squabbles and sort out their relationship.

“The two sides have spent a fortune on legal bills and now they need to wake up to the fact that Londoners expect and deserve value for money.

“We urge them to reset their relationship for the sake of Londoners and realise instead the potential of a fantastic Olympic legacy project.”

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady is due to appear before the committee on October 17.


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