London Stadium should be making money and rent is not too low - Karren Brady

London Stadium
London Stadium is set to lose £140m over the next 10 years

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady says London Stadium should be making money - not incurring huge losses.

Brady disputes figures from stadium owners the London Legacy Development Corporation, who say it costs taxpayers up to £250,000 for each West Ham match.

Speaking to a London Assembly hearing, Brady says it is "hugely frustrating" that offers of help have been rejected.

She said "nobody" at the group responsible for running the stadium had any expertise in that field.

Brady said that on matchdays, the stadium was "generating millions of pounds", adding: "There should be a surplus.

"We would like more control over our matchdays, no one knows how to do that more than us. When we first wanted to move in, we offered to buy the stadium, and we would have been responsible for all costs and that was rejected.

"London Stadium craves direction, it should be a jewel in the crown. It needs financial control, it needs investment, it has nowhere near reached its potential and that's incredibly frustrating.

"Unfortunately our help has not been sought."

West Ham pay an index-linked annual rent that has now reached £3m-a-year, but the venue is still set to lose £140m over the next 10 years.

"I refuse to accept any criticism that our rent is too low, because that is simply not the case. Costs are too high," Brady insisted.

Asked if West Ham would be prepared to buy the stadium if it was offered, Brady said: "That's certainly something we'd look at."

London Stadium still has no naming rights deal in place, even though Brady said it should be "relatively easy" to negotiate.

Brady did confirm agreement had been reached to replace the green carpet that covers the running track at the venue for the 2012 Olympics and that this would "predominantly" be claret.

BBC Sport understands West Ham are paying an increased annual rent as part of this agreement, which will also include a statue outside the stadium and the opportunity to name a stand after one of their former players.

The stadium has been dogged by controversy over its finances with disputes between LLDC and West Ham also costing the taxpayer £4m in legal fees.

Brady said that could be doubled if LLDC lose another court case surrounding the capacity of the stadium set for next month. West Ham argue their agreement is for a 60,000-capacity stadium. It is currently 52,000.

Converting London Stadium into a football ground cost £323m when the original estimate was £190m.

But she then stated that the club "did not want to find ourselves in the same situation as [stadium organisers] E20" because of the existing commercial deals at the stadium, including the cost of changing the seating for athletics events, which now runs into millions of pounds when the original estimate was £400,000.

She added: "I think it would be a difficult thing to take over."

Karren Brady
Karren Brady says London Stadium running costs are too high

'West Ham is part of the solution'

During the London Assembly meeting, which lasted 75 minutes, Brady described West Ham's relationship with LLDC as "difficult", saying there were "sporadic communications" and a "lack of authority" from those involved.

Adding to the legal disputes with LLDC, she also confirmed West Ham had to take E20 to court to get the information required to answer an FA charge following crowd trouble at the match v Burnley in March, the hearing for which has taken place over the past two days.

But she did praise a recent improvement in the relationship, after the appointment of new LLDC chief executive Lynn Garner, who has taken a "pragmatic approach" and had the "authority to make a decision".

She complained about the public perception that West Ham are a "burden on taxpayer" insisting that "without the club, there wouldn't be a stadium".

And she criticised the inability of LLDC to find a stadium naming rights partner.

LLDC paid two companies a total of £447,000 to try to find a naming rights partner, but without success, meaning the costs were again footed by the taxpayer.

Brady said: "They should give [control of naming rights] to us and let us sell it."

After explaining she had offered help to LLDC 15 times, the vice-chairman added: "There needs to be a shift. West Ham is part of the solution rather than the problem."

Gareth Bacon, chairman of the London Assembly budget monitoring sub-committee where Brady was speaking, said the legal disputes between the two parties "need to stop".

"We have discovered that the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who promised more than a year ago to take personal charge of the stadium, has only met Baroness Brady once," he added.

"However, we were pleased to hear today some thawing in the relationship has taken place. We would urge both sides to build a more constructive relationship to protect the Olympics' legacy for Londoners."

Massive confusion over costs

Much of the discussion at the London Assembly centred around previous confusion about stadium losses on matchdays.

As part of their 99-year lease from LLDC, West Ham do not pay for stewarding, goalposts, cleaners or turnstile operators.

Brady said she had been presented with costs to the taxpayer (or losses) of "£250,000 per match, £83,000 per match and now £43,000 per match", and said she was unsure if they were being confused with the actual cost of staging matches. Either way, she said: "I don't think the numbers are right."

But she admitted that the rent they had agreed with LLDC was based on an estimate of previous matchday costs at Upton Park of £51,000.

Upton Park had about 22,000 fewer seats than London Stadium.

Brady also pointed out that using the stadium for athletics and having to remove seats to expose the running track costs "an incredibly high amount of money".

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