West Ham play down Olympic Stadium groundshare talk

By Sara OrchardBBC Sport
West Ham chairman David Gold outside the club's new ground for 2016-17
West Ham chairman David Gold outside the club's new ground for 2016-17

West Ham say it would be "impossible" to share their new Olympic Stadium ground with another Premier League club without their agreement.

Stadium bosses London Legacy Development Corporation told a tribunal they would be open to discussions with Tottenham and Chelsea, who are redeveloping their grounds.

But West Ham said they take "priority".

Monday's hearing, much of which was in private, centred on whether details of West Ham's deal should be made public.

The LLDC is appealing against a ruling by the Information Commissioner to put the full 99-year rental agreement in the public domain.

The hearing was adjourned to a date to be fixed, with a decision likely to be made weeks after that second day of evidence.

West Ham, who will reportedly be paying between £2m and £2.5m annually in rent, have said they are happy for the contract to be made public and did not send a representative to the hearing.

Cost of transforming the stadium
Of the £272m costs, £15m is being provided by West Ham, with £1m coming from UK Athletics. The stadium will have an initial 54,000 capacity and has already staged other events including rugby union matches and motorsport.Work has included installing a new 45,000 square metre cantilever roof, twice the size of the original, covering all the seats - it will be the largest of its kind in the world.
The local borough of Newham is contributing £40m, and national government £25m, with the rest coming from a variety of sources, including Olympic Park land sales.Retractable seating for 21,000 spectators is being fitted to allow the athletics track to be used in the summer, and the venue will host the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

LLDC chief Geraldine Murphy told the tribunal that West Ham do not have the power to veto a groundshare and that it remains "possible".

But the LLDC did say any new arrangement with a top-flight club would need the "co-operation" of West Ham and the Premier League.

"As anchor tenant we have primacy of use during the football season and our contract gives us overriding priority to use the stadium, ensuring our‎ fixtures and events are ring-fenced and will always take priority over all‎ other events," said a West Ham spokesman.

"It would therefore be impossible to accommodate the fixtures of another Premier League club without West Ham agreeing - a position which was fully supported at today's hearing.‎"

There is no suggestion an approach has been made, but Chelsea and Tottenham will be in need of temporary accommodation while their stadiums are redeveloped.

The Blues have applied for permission to redevelop Stamford Bridge, while Spurs are planning to turn their existing White Hart Lane site into a 61,000 arena.

West Ham are in their final season at the Boleyn Ground before moving about three miles to the former Olympic Stadium in east London.