Executive directors of the London Stadium holding company appeared before the London Assembly budget committee recently and gave West Ham new hope of full control of the stadium.
LLDC CEO Lyn Garner and deputy CEO Gerry Murphy appeared before the budget scrutiny committee to justify their draft budget for the London Stadium which saw a predicted £1.5m of additional funding. It was confirmed that the LLDC which owns the London Stadium will wind up by 2025 when it will cease to be an entity and planning is already underway for that handover.
London Assembly members were frustrated at the rate of progress after a new commercial director Nathan Homer was appointed in 2020 and particularly around the lack of naming rights partner after six years of trying. The LLDC has spent over £450,000 in external fees to date trying to market naming rights with no success.
When asked if West Ham could be allowed to run the stadium more efficiently or commercially, Garner replied: ‘It would be possible, we remain open to conversations about match day control, we have two things on our minds, the cost to the public purse and health and safety.’
Pushed on the subject, Garner admitted conversations with West Ham were not happening right now but that they were open-minded.
Garner continued: ‘We have offered a conversation to the club for more control of the stadium but we haven’t had the conversation yet.’
Security and maintenance
Gerry Murphy confirmed that the LLDC are looking at the re-procurement of venue operations including the hard and soft facility management contracts such as security and maintenance, this seems to be at odds for West Ham taking over operations of the London Stadium.
On the West Stand lower replacement, Murphy said: ‘We are just a point of agreeing a West Stand improvement programme through a sustainable capital investment.’
The deputy CEO went on to claim that the seat moving costs could drop from £4.3m to £2m per annum after the West Stand reconfiguration and if more baseball returns to the London Stadium. Questioned by one London Assembly member about PAI Capital’s contact with LLDC over a long lease of the London Stadium, Garner explained: ‘A consortium of individuals approached us last summer and they told us they were in advanced discussions with the club taking a controlling interest.
‘They asked us on that basis would we be prepared to look into a long leasehold position with them to take control of the multi-use stadium including football but other events and concerts as well and we said in principle we would be prepared to have that conversation with the detail worked out over time.’
He added: ‘We can’t afford not to consider anything put to us so yes we entered into those conversations but my understanding of the deal with the club did not come off.’
Challenged whether this is still not a potential way forward with West Ham, Garner admitted: ‘it was a potential way forward for the stadium but the club would need to be fully engaged in that conversation and want to take on those additional responsibilities.’