Hearn: My dog could negotiate a better deal over stadium

Date published: Thursday 14th April 2016 4:35

Olympic Stadium: West Ham sell out season tickets

Olympic Stadium: West Ham sell out season tickets

Former Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn says his dog could have negotiated a better deal than the one which will see West Ham pay £2.5million per year to occupy the Olympic Stadium.

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.

And the £48,000 per week deal shows the LLDC must 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: “It’s a hugely beneficial deal to West Ham and good luck to them. They’ve 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.

West Ham: Moving at the end of the season

LLDC, responsible for transforming venues used for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, declined to take up the option to appeal and the contract was published in full on Thursday after 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 the West Ham deal to winning the lottery. That was prior to the full publication of the contract.

The deal shows LLDC must meet running costs for the likes of: utilities; the pitch preparations, including undersoil heating and floodlights; the ‘dugouts’ for managers, substitutes and the fourth official; changing rooms; and security, cleaning and pest control.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance on Thursday said the contract was “ludicrously generous” and “the deal of the century”.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “As sunlight is finally shone on this murky deal, you can understand why the LLDC was so reluctant to reveal the details as they have handed the Hammers the deal of the century.

“You can’t blame the club for taking advantage of the ludicrously generous taxpayer subsidy they’ve been handed on a plate; instead we should be directing our anger and awkward questions at those responsible for offering a deal for which most clubs would have sold their star striker.

“Those of us footing the bills deserve a proper explanation.”

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 using it. That would include hosting music concerts, for example.

An LLDC spokesperson said: “The stadium needs to be a profitable and successful commercial operation otherwise it will rely on public subsidy.

“We were concerned that the publication of this contract and the precedent it may set for future agreements could make it harder to do this.”

West Ham Olympic Stadium

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.

West Ham won the bid to be lead tenants ahead of Tottenham and Leyton Orient.

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 for positions from 10th (£25,000) to first in the Premier League. Finishing from first to fifth would result in a payment of £100,000.

The Hammers, who are the sole beneficiaries of ticket sales, are currently sixth in the Premier League.

A payment of £250,000 is required for qualifying for the Champions League group stages – and £1m for winning the European Cup.

Winning the FA Cup or Europa League would cost £100,000; qualifying for the Europa League also costs £100,000.

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

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

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.

The Hammers are due to move into the arena in time for the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season.

In a statement on their website, West Ham made it clear they had no objection to the contract being made public.

“The club has nothing to hide,” the club statement said.

“We firmly believe it is a great deal for both West Ham United and also the taxpayer.”

Olympic Stadium Coalition, a coalition of 14 supporters’ trusts and groups, had been campaigning for the contract to be published.

It said it would take time to digest the 207-page report.

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