West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has hit back at criticism at the “deal of the century” which put the east London club into the Olympic Stadium.
She said having West Ham at the Olympic Park in Stratford kept the Park alive and ensured the stadium wouldn’t become a white elephant, as so many others have done.
“The fact we have struck a good deal for West Ham, the taxpayer and the community should be a cause for congratulations,” she said, adding that "our presence will create more than 700 jobs".
The details of the contract were finally laid bare last week after the London Legacy Development Corporation lost an appeal with the Information Tribunal . The stadium operators feared that revelations would undermine their ability to negotiate competitively with other stadium users. LLDC chairman David Goldstone said this could cost the taxpayers “hundreds of millions” over the life of the 99-year lease.
No startling new information was revealed when the full unredacted document was made available following a campaign by a coalition of football supporters. The club will be paying £2.5million a year rent – halved if they are relegated – and paid £15million for the conversion costs.
The contract reveals that the LLDC will keep the first £4million of any naming rights deal for the stadium over a 20-year period and that anything over that will be split 50-50.
The LLDC will also keep the first £500,000 of any profit on catering, with anything over that amount being split 70/30.
The LLDC will receive money in performance related bonuses – an extra £100,000 if West Ham finish 10th or above or £1million if the club win the Premier League. There is also money going to the LLDC if West Ham are sold.
The contract also stipulates the stadium “shall retain the look and feel of the home ground of West Ham United Football Club during the football season without limitation” – a fact demonstrated by the installation of claret and blue seats.
It confirms that the LLDC will meet all the running costs for the stadium, providing everything from stewards to corner flags. West Ham’s deal covers 25 matches per season with the club paying an extra £100,000 for each match over that number. At other times the stadium will be used for athletics, concerts and community events.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said it was like “winning the lottery” and Leyton Orient’s Barry Hearn said: “My dog could have negotiated a better deal for the taxpayer.”
In her column for The Sun Karren Brady wrote: “When I read comments from some of the critics I do often find myself asking – what on earth do people want? A derelict site like the Athens Olympic Stadium? Or the Bird Cage stadium in Beijing – now a Segway track? Or would Tottenham’s plan of tearing it down have sat better?”
Meanwhile, at the Stadium itself, the first blue seats being installed. The installation of claret seats in the Stadium in Stratford has been completed, including an iconic Crossed Hammers design across the Lower Tier seats in both the North and South Stands.
The first blue seats have now been delivered, enabling construction staff to continue and complete the job of writing “West Ham” across the Kop style East Stand.