The fight continues for cheaper pints but do West Ham really care?

We've been overcharged for beers for years but the club is only now being vocal

West Ham will continue to fight London Stadium 185 and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to comply with the comparable club’s clause despite an initial drop in prices. London Stadium beer prices have dropped to £6.30 per pint for Fosters lager being the cheapest pint but the real cost should be £5.75 per pint with other foods and drinks also overpriced.

At £6.30 per pint, West Ham have the second most expensive cheapest pint in the Premier League after Arsenal at £6.35. Despite threats from West Ham that they will sue the stadium owners if they don’t comply with the comparable clubs’ clause, the prices have not dropped further in recent weeks.

The 2013 concessionaire agreement clause says the price of food and drink can be no more than the mean average of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs prices.   As it stands the mean average of the cheapest beer across those clubs is £5.75 per pint for the cheapest pint. After the outcry from the first game where Amstel was priced at £6.80 prices have dropped slightly with Amstel now at £6.60 and the introduction of Fosters at £6.30 per pint.

They have also introduced a cheaper early bird offer of Amtel or Fosters at £4.95 per pint for the first 45 minutes after the gates open begging the question of why prices cannot be lower if they can make money at that price. London Stadium are claiming that there is a clause in Delaware North’s contract and the issue is down to the caterer, but West Ham’s contract is with LLDC and not Delaware North.

LLDC subcontracts catering to operators London Stadium 185, who in turn contracted Delaware North in a 25-year catering contract for the stadium. If not resolved, West Ham could sue LLDC with LLDC making a legal claim against Delaware North unless a compromise can be reached.

There could be a small twist in the story with other London clubs planning to raise their prices due to inflation and rising supply costs. Last month 6foot2 received a Freedom of Information response from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) on the setting and monitoring of food and drinks prices at the London Stadium.

Within the response, the London Stadium owner’s state: “The London Stadium catering subcontractor Delaware North presents the proposed annual costs for food and drink to London Stadium 185 for approval and then to West Ham United for review and approval each season.” They confirm West Ham contacted E20 Stadium LLP on 15 August 2022 alleging that the pricing charged at the London Stadium for match day refreshments, and claimed they constituted a breach of the Concession Agreement and threatened legal action in relation to the alleged breach of the 2013 agreement.

LLDC state that Delaware North is responsible for collating and setting retail pricing for refreshments at the London Stadium adding that neither E20 Stadium LLP nor London Stadium 185 have carried out a calculation in relation to the comparable club’s clause. They claim there have been no challenges by West Ham on the catering prices in relation to Clause 18.11 over the past five years.

The response finishes by stating neither Delaware North nor London Stadium 185 Limited are parties to the Concession Agreement and therefore are not bound by its terms. The agreement between London Stadium 185 and Delaware North contains a number of provisions relating to the availability, pricing and quality of food and beverages at the London Stadium as well as provisions relating to service levels for and ways of working.

It is very telling that West Ham had not challenged this clause before August 2022. I believe the clause has been breached for at least three seasons including this one but possibly longer, and could have been breached every year since West Ham moved in 2016 but as no one was formally monitoring, it is hard to say.

LLDC has admitted that they have not calculated the average cost of London comparable prices for the last five years, so it appears this clause has gone unchecked until this year after a supporter backlash on the first day of the season. I calculate the London Comparable price to have been £5.36 per pint last season with the London Stadium charging £5.80 per pint

The previous season before that, it was a similar tale with the comparable London clubs’ price being £4.86 per pint while the London Stadium charged £5.30 per pint. Let’s see what happens in this long-running refreshment saga as I am sure this won’t be the last word.  

London Stadium owners have also said they would be willing to consider handing over negotiations around naming rights for the stadium if West Ham offered them £4m-a-year. London Legacy Development Corporation chief executive Lyn Garner was speaking at a recent London Assembly Plenary with a discussion around the benefits and legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

‘The concept has moved from simply selling stadium naming rights but rights across the whole of the park,’ said Garner. ‘Will I give naming rights to West Ham? Yes I would give the naming rights to West Ham if the right financial deal was put on the table. If they want to offer £4m a year to sell naming rights, then we can have a conversation. Those naming rights are worth a lot more money when they are put in a pot for a shirt deal and I can’t sell them cheaply to a football club.’

Back in 2017, Vodafone got close to signing a naming rights deal for the London Stadium but it fell through. Indian company Mahindra reportedly also came close to striking a deal, only for it to fall by the wayside.

Under the current contract, West Ham would share 50% of the naming rights over £4m per season. However, West Ham have no interest in buying the London Stadium naming rights, sources close to the club have told me.

West Ham club officials were bemused when they watched LLDC CEO Lynn Garner tell the London Assembly that she would be prepared to sell the naming rights as that was news to the club and the first they have ever heard of such a proposal. After 10 years of no success in selling the rights, the pressure is on the London Stadium owners from London Assembly members to cut their losses which amounted to £31m last year.

A senior source close to the club said they had no desire to buy the rights themselves and take on the financial risk but their offer to help the LLDC sell the rights remains open and they only need to ask. West Ham have a primary sponsorship shirt sponsorship with Betway until 2025 worth £10m per year and I understand that the gambling company has no desire to add the stadium naming rights to its West Ham sponsorship inventory.

Just weeks later a new report suggested that London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) will attempt to sell naming rights for the whole Queen Elizabeth Park including all the venues instead of just the London Stadium. This latest report, if true, will raise some eyebrows after 10 years of failed naming rights strategy.

This appears like another daft idea from the public body as most sponsors would be interested in the global Premier League exposure and the other venues, and the park is probably of little interest or value to them. In other London Stadium news, West Ham supporter and London Assembly member Keith Prince questioned LLDC CEO Lynn Garner on whether any conversations or negotiations had taken place with West Ham over a long lease of the London Stadium following PAI Capital approach some time ago.

Previously Garner said she would be open to an approach from West Ham but admitted no such contact had been made since it was first mentioned last December last year. Garner said she would be happy to share the same level of details with West Ham that was shared with PAI Capital if the LLDC was minded doing so.

She insisted there was nothing secretive among their talks with PAI Capital and there were only high-level principles agreed upon and no detailed terms or anything of that nature. Garner added that the high-level principles covered continued multi-use of the stadium and financial aspects, saying she was open-minded and happy to be transparent to any potential organisations.

Local councils that surround the Olympic Park are taking back planning control over their areas from the end of 2024, having lost planning power in 2012. The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has managed the Olympic park and had planning control over the wider area ever since it was set up in 2012 as part of the  London 2012  bid to manage the physical and regeneration of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP) and the surrounding area.

Since then, the LLDC has managed the post-Olympics development of the Olympic site, and also managed the planning approvals for Hackney Wick, Fish Island, Bromley-by-Bow, Sugar House Lane, the Carpenters Estate and Westfield Stratford City. As the area is reaching the point where developments within the main park are pretty much all signed off or being built, it’s been agreed that the local councils that surround the park should reclaim planning controls over their patches.  

With its reduced role, the LLDC will also change to a new organisation from April 2025, with a focus on becoming financially sustainable without ongoing GLA funding — although the London Stadium will be exempt from that requirement, due to the controversial 99-year lease signed with West Ham. One insider with close links to the LLDC has suggested that the remaining responsibilities of the LLDC could be swallowed up by the GLA in 2025 with the LLDC potentially abolished so we could soon see the end of the LLDC.

WHAT IS SIX FOOT TWO?

Six Foot two is an online West Ham magazine website, founded by  Nigel Kahn. The website is dedicated to the trials and tribulations of the loyal supporters of West Ham.

We collaborate closely with  ‘Moore Than Just A Podcast’,  where Nigel is a co-presenter, and the YouTube channel  ‘West Ham Voice‘  founded and hosted by Stelios Kyriakou as well as the guys over at Claret and Booze. Sean Whetstone, the host of  ‘Moore Than Just A Podcast’  also brings you the latest exclusive Breaking News as news executive editor of the site.

Our line-up includes our away day roving vlogger Richard Dodds or Doddsy as he likes to be known. You can be assured of original content and honest, straight-to-the-point, opinions about our beloved club.

Nigel, Stelios, and Sean are all West Ham season ticket holders who frequent most games and when they are not watching football they vlog, podcast, and write about the Hammers. Visit us at www.6foot2.co.uk  

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