Widespread support for inquiry into London Olympic Stadium

Photo: G Traveler/Flickr

Photo: G Traveler/Flickr

03.11.2016

By Steve Menary
An inquiry into spiraling costs for converting the main 2012 London Olympic stadium into a Premier League football ground has finally been ordered more than two years after the problem was first revealed.

Sadiq Khan, who replaced the right wing Conservative Boris Johnson as Mayor in May 2016, has ordered the probe after costs surged more than £50 million in converting the stadium for West Ham United, which began playing Premier League matches there this season.

A spokesperson for the London Mayor said: "The mayor is deeply concerned about the finances of the Olympic Stadium, which have clearly been left in a total and utter mess by the previous administration at City Hall. Sadiq has ordered a detailed investigation into the full range of financial issues surrounding the stadium."

More than £750 million has been spent on building the stadium for the Olympics then converting it for Premier League football. West Ham paid a one-off £15 million fee towards the conversion and is paying £2.5 million a year into running costs but nothing towards the cost of policing at a ground that has seen significant crowd trouble this season.

Following the announcement of the inquiry, chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), David Edmonds, has resigned from his post. The LLDC co-owns the stadium with Newham.

The inquiry, which comes after significant media coverage into West Ham’s deal, was welcomed by the Olympic Stadium Coalition (OSC), which is a coalition of 14 clubs and local interest groups that has long been campaigning against the deal.

“This is a breakthrough in our long campaign to highlight the intolerable burden on taxpayers of the rebuilding of the Olympic Stadium to the specification of a well off Premier League football club,” said the OSC in a statement.

“We have never objected to the idea of West Ham playing at the stadium; the question is simply one of how much the club should pay, and how much the taxpayer should be expected to fund.

“Our attempts to seek transparency have been blocked at every turn by the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council. It took two years for us to obtain release of the full rental contract under Freedom of Information law.

“We believe that all taxpayers deserve to be made fully aware of just how much we are all paying, and how much West Ham United are paying towards both capital and operating costs.

“Only this week, we have learnt that the naming rights deal for the stadium has fallen through. As a result, we believe this means the stadium will operate at a loss for the foreseeable future, especially if the police seek to recharge the costs of their increased presence at the stadium due to crowd control issues.

“The entire deal, and not just the rebuild costs, should be examined in detail, by the Mayor and the taxpayer.”

The OSC wants to meet Khan in order to provide what it describes as “significant information that we have gathered about the operational costs of the stadium.”

The inquiry is also being supported by the London Borough of Newham, which co-owns the stadium through limited liability partnership, E20 Stadium LLP.

Conservative MP Damian Collins, a member of the New FIFA Now alliance, also welcomed the inquiry.

Another lobby group, the Taxpayers Alliance, has also been campaigning for an inquiry, which now comes only after a change in Mayor and two years after website, Constructionenquirer.com, revealed the £50 million surge rise in costs due to problems with the steelwork.

West Ham has not commented on the enquiry but the club’s vice chairman, Baroness Karren Brady, has previously defended the club’s deal, insisting it should be “celebrated”.

In September 2014, Brady was appointed a member of the UK government’s upper tier, the House of Lords, as a Conservative life peer.

Members of the House of Lords are not elected, but appointed by the British Queen on the advice of the prime minster. In September 2014, the prime minister was the Conservative, David Cameron.

Comment

* required field

*
*
*
What is three plus seven?
*

Guidelines for posting
Play the Game promotes an open debate on sport and sports politics and we strongly encourage everyone to participate in the discussions on playthegame.org. But please follow these simple guidelines when you write a post:

  1. Please be respectful - even if you disagree strongly with certain viewpoints. Slanderous or profane remarks will not be posted.
  2. Please keep to the subject. Spam or solicitations of any kind will not be posted.

Accept cookies

By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our cookie policy unless you have disabled them.