London mayor Boris Johnson says he’s “perfectly happy” to release details of the commercial arrangement with West Ham over its use of the Olympic Stadium.
As one London Assembly member pointed out, his appetite for openness coincided with a ruling from the Information Commissioner that the deal between the club and the London Legacy Development Corporation should be made public.
West Ham have indicated that they will appeal against the decision in order to protect their financial interests.
At Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall, Mr Johnson said: “We’ve got nothing to hide. We will be spending no more public money on this thing and that’s a fantastic achievement.
“I understand [West Ham] is not so keen because they think it will give other clubs an insight into their finances – they may be taking legal action on that point.
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“I think it should be a matter of public record. We should be proud that we’ve got a Premiership football team in the stadium. Rather than carping you should congratulate LLDC on the deal.”
His remark was addressed to Assembly Member Andrew Dismore who said: “I am pleased that you are happy to release the data because you’ve just been told to release it, haven’t you? Up until now you’ve wanted to keep the deal secret because you wanted to cover up the fact West Ham had put one over on you and taken you to the cleaners.
“West Ham have only paid 5.5% of the conversion costs, they’re only paying about £2million in rent, they don’t have to pay for security, policing, stewarding, turnstile staff, ground maintenance – they don’t even have to pay for goalposts and they get to keep all the ticket sales.”
Mr Johnson said any reticence was due to the last of the contracts being completed and added: “The gist of the matter is actually this has been a fantastic success, the stadium is doing brilliantly – it will do very well during the Rugby World Cup and it is unlike any other Olympic Stadium around the world. It has a long term, viable future with Premiership football at the heart of the deal.
“We are confident it is not in breach of any state aid rules nor is it anti-competitive. The difficulty is that the stadium was not suitable for Premiership football and that was because of the wrong decisions taken by the then Labour administration.
“We had to sort out that mess. It was perfectly obvious that we couldn’t have a long-term future for the stadium without it hosting a Premiership club. It’s a great asset for London.”
The Information Commissioner’s ruling came after a campaign by a coalition of 14 supporters’ trusts
The LLDC has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal but the coalition of groups has called on Mr Johnson, who oversees the LLDC, to waive that right, saying: “The Information Commissioner’s decision could not have been clearer, and it is equally clear to us that publication must follow.
“This campaign is publicly backed by 25,000 individuals, football supporters’ trusts from around the country, and the public interest in the issue is there for all to see.”
“We call on the mayor not to use the appeal system to delay publication of this document further. If he does it will open him up to the suspicion that he has something to hide.”
A spokesman for West Ham said: “The club would like to point out that the ruling is not against West Ham United, it is against the LLDC. The club is now working with the LLDC to decide the appropriate next step.”