London

West Ham Olympic Stadium deal: Fans inquiry call thrown out

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

The government has rejected a request from a group of football supporters to investigate the rental of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United.

The supporters claimed the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) would subsidise rent, which it denied.

The group made up of trusts from clubs including Arsenal said it was "disappointed" by the decision but had expected it.

The government said the deal had been "scrutinised" and "upheld".

The LLDC, which owns the stadium, said West Ham contributed £15m to the £272m conversion of the stadium and the development corporation would also pay for "facilities and services" such as pitch maintenance and for stewarding on match days, which can cost £2.5m annually.

It is also understood the club will pay up to £2.5m a year in rent, although the LLDC said it would never reveal that information.

In comparison, Manchester City, who moved into the former Commonwealth Games stadium, pay overheads on top of £4m rent.

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

The coalition of supporters, made up of trusts from clubs including Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, started an online petition which had gained more than 24,000 signatures in favour of a public inquiry.

Mat Roper said the group remained concerned they were expected to see it as a "fabulous deal for the taxpayer" when they had not seen any figures to support the claim and one document they requested had been "completely redacted".

He said: "We're no nearer the truth of what we think is in the rental agreement....until we know that then we're going to continue.

"Whether it happens to be continuing with that petition, a new petition or... a new FOI request, it's certainly not dead in the water."

The group said they remained concerned the deal would give the Hammers a competitive advantage.

But the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "West Ham United has a concession at the stadium and their contributions reflect that status.

"The contract, awarded after an open public competition, has been widely scrutinised and tested in court.

"The stadium remains in public ownership and the profits from its multiple uses will flow to the taxpayer."

While West Ham will host all of their home matches at the stadium, British Athletics will take control of the arena for one month every summer.

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