London

West Ham Olympic Stadium deal: Fans group calls for inquiry

Artist's impression of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium Image copyright West Ham
Image caption West Ham will play at the Olympic Stadium from the 2016-17 season

A group of London football supporters have called for a public inquiry into the rental of the Olympic Stadium by West Ham United.

The group claims the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) will in effect subsidise the rent, which the LLDC denies.

The group added there were "serious questions" about the amount taxpayers would be relied upon.

West Ham said it had won the deal though a fair and "robust process".

The coalition of supporters, made up of trusts from clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, has started an online petition which has so far gained more than 5,800 signatures in favour of an inquiry.

The supporters also said they had concerns the deal would give the Hammers a competitive advantage.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Olympic Stadium will host other sporting and entertainment events

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request previously revealed West Ham contributed £15m to the £272m conversion of the stadium.

The LLDC, which owns the stadium, will pay for "facilities and services" such as pitch maintenance and for stewarding on match days, which can cost £2.5m annually.

'Beyond football tribalism'

It is understood West Ham, which earned £76m in Premier League payments last season, will pay up to £2.5m a year in rent.

In comparison, Manchester City, who moved into the former Commonwealth Games venue, pay overheads on top of £4m rent, while Chelsea and Tottenham are expected to pay between £11m and £15m a year to play at Wembley on a temporary basis.

The coalition said: "The fact that so many supporter groups have come together to call for this inquiry shows that the issues raised go beyond football tribalism.

"As football fans and as taxpayers... this shady deal is not in the interests of the game of football and does little to promote public confidence in the way our money is being spent."

West Ham said: "Our presence underwrites the multi-use legacy of the stadium and our contribution alone will pay back more than the cost of building and converting the stadium."

The LLDC said in a statement: "The stadium is a publicly-owned multi-use venue that will host 25 West Ham United home matches and many other sporting and entertainment events every year. This contract will ensure commercial success.

"West Ham United secured their anchor tenancy after winning a competitive tender process that was heavily publicised and open to any organisation in the world."

West Ham is due to move from Upton Park in August 2016.

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