The full details of West Ham’s agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation for the Olympic Stadium has been released to much furore.
But why is there such outrage from others about the deal West Ham have got? Sure, it’s a good deal for West Ham, and credit to Karen Brady for brokering it, but the outcry has been far over the top. Most of the anger seems to be about the fact that the taxpayers are footing the bill for the transition costs, but weren’t they already?
The stadium was built as an 80,000 capacity Olympic venue, the legacy of which being a 25,000-seater athletics stadium. How did they think funding was going to be raised for the transition to that? The only difference now is that West Ham have funded £15m towards the roof, that was never initially planned to be in place.
What would the taxpayer prefer, money put towards an open bowl of a stadium that is used twice a year? Or the money towards an asset that will continue to generate a return on the investment? Many have claimed the £2.5m per year we are paying in rent as derisory. But think about it, we have use of it for a maximum of 25 days. Ergo, we rent the stadium for £100,000 each time we use it.
Add to this rental the matchday revenue – something that West Ham will no longer get to keep – and using Arsenal as the benchmark based on size and geography, you’re looking at £90m per year that the LLDC will earn.
Not to mention the lions’ share of the naming rights. Not a bad income for 25 days of the year – especially as the ‘non West Ham days’ are free to be hired out for rugby internationals, rock concerts and the like. Huge earning potential, which West Ham have no claim over. The fact we are renting it for 25 days a year seems lost on most people. Yes, we avoid costs on turnstiles, staff and even goal posts. But do AC/DC have to pay for their own stage?
And to compare us to Arsenal, who had to cut costs while they paid for The Emirates to be built, people forget one thing – by renting our stadium, it devalues the club, as we have a major asset less than other clubs have. So West Ham have had a fantastic deal. But so too have the LLDC, and indeed the taxpayer.