The running costs of West Ham’s new stadium at the Olympic Park will be partly funded by the taxpayer, it has been revealed following an Freedom of Information request by the BBC.
The east London club will not even have to pay for their own goalposts or corner flags.
The club will move into the £700million Olympic Stadium next year, but following this revelation, critics are now calling for a full public inquiry into the financial deal between the public body that owns the stadium, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), and the Hammers.
It was always known that significant public funds would go towards running the stadium, as West Ham is just a tenant in a multi-purpose venue, but this reveals for the first time that some purely football event matters will come from the public purse.
Shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport Chris Bryant said the Government must publish the full details of the deal or he will join calls for a full public inquiry.
He told the BBC : “To all intents and purposes, this is a contract which gives West Ham the stadium at a peppercorn rent at most or, to be honest, for no rent whatsoever.
“The question is, if we were able to see the fuller facts and figures, which I think we should, would we be even more angry?”
The BBC reports that a lot of the rental agreement it has seen has been redacted, but it can be seen that facilities and services will be paid for by the taxpayer – this includes maintaining the pitch, stewarding and security.
The BBC was told by two football business experts that the value of services amounts to between £1.4million and £2.5million a year, while it is believed that West Ham will pay around £2million to £2.5million in rent each year although the exact figure has never been revealed.
In a statement West Ham said: “Without us the stadium would lose money. The suggestion we are getting the stadium rent free is categorically wrong – we are more than paying our way.
“Our agreement with the LLDC will see West Ham make a substantial capital contribution towards the conversion works of a stadium on top of a multi-million pound annual usage fee, a share of food and catering sales, plus provide extra value to the naming rights agreement.”
It says it is restricted by financial confidentiality because of commercially sensitive figures, much to the frustration of those who feel the full terms should be revealed in the public interest.