Olympic Stadium: Appeal due on West Ham deal from LLDC

Olympic Stadium
West Ham are poised to move into their new home at the end of the 2015-16 season

An appeal against the decision to release full details of West Ham's Olympic Stadium deal is due to be heard in London on Monday.

Stadium bosses, the London Legacy Development Corporation, have spent about £17,000 fighting a ruling that the contract should be made public.

It argues the deal contains commercially sensitive information.

Last month the London Assembly called for the rental agreement to be published in full.

Monday's independent tribunal hearing is open to the public, although it is likely to be several weeks before a decision is announced.

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

The cost of appeal

At a meeting earlier this month, the London Assembly heard thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent in an effort to keep full details of the West Ham deal out of the public domain.

Giving evidence to the assembly's budget and performance committee, LLDC board chairman David Edmonds said that:

• The LLDC has spent £4,000 to date on legal fees on its appeal after the Information Commissioner - an independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest - ordered the whole deal should be made public.

• These legal costs are expected to rise this month to £17,000. This could be more should the LLDC appeal against the tribunal decision.

• The final bill for transforming the Olympic Stadium might top the previous estimate of £272 million, as the LLDC negotiates the cost of further work.

The commissioner's ruling followed a freedom of information request from a coalition of football supporters.

"We will continue to make the same demands for transparency as we made when we set out on this campaign, because we believe that a fair deal for the taxpayer, is a fair deal for football," it said in a statement.

Olympic Stadium 2016 timetable
By late May: Work at the stadium due to have been completed
4 June: Music - AC/DC concert
22-24 July: Athletics - London Anniversary Games
August: Football - West Ham begin 2016-17 season

Why has the appeal been lodged?

Stadium bosses are worried that if all the figures are made available, it would place them at a commercial disadvantage, undermine negotiations and reduce returns to the taxpayer.

Other venues in London, such as Wembley and Emirates Stadiums, do not publicise all the details of their arrangements.

"The long-term deals with both West Ham United and UK Athletics alongside the appointment of an operator, incentivised to bring in other events, such as AC/DC this summer, mean the stadium has a viable future requiring no ongoing subsidy and is truly a world-class multi-use arena," said an LLDC spokesperson.

What questions remain unanswered?

One big unknown from the deal is who benefits, and by how much, from the stadium naming rights. This arrangement is likely to run into tens of millions of pounds.

Other questions the coalition say it wants answered include:

  • How much the stadium costs to hire
  • Cost of stadium maintenance, and who pays for it
  • What happens if West Ham United is sold by its current owners
  • How much the club earns from matchday catering

In August, the BBC revealed West Ham will not have to pay for a range of staff including cleaners and turnstile operators when they move in. Heating, lighting and a variety of other costs will also be covered.

The LLDC denies the sums are being funded by the taxpayer, saying use of the stadium - including rental fees - will generate additional revenue.

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.

Background: West Ham 'will fill' Olympic Stadium

What are West Ham paying for?

West Ham's vice-chairman Karren Brady says she fought for the best deal, but denies this was at the expense of taxpayers.

The Hammers are paying £15m towards the transformation costs of the stadium, and reportedly £2m to £2.5m rent annually as part of a 99-year lease.

West Ham will also have to fork out a different amount each year based on which division the club is playing in, with the cost rising for every position above 11th they finish in the Premier League.

Additional fees will be charged if they win the FA Cup, qualify for the Europa League or Champions League, and should they triumph in those tournaments.

A section from the Olympic Stadium agreement
Some sections of the agreement have been published, but with parts redacted