Deal for West Ham to move to Olympic Stadium close, claims London Mayor

Wednesday, 20 February 2013
By Tom Degun

West-Ham-Olympic-StadiumFebruary 20 - West Ham United's protracted move to the Olympic Stadium appears on the verge of being completed as they look to conclude negotiations with the London Legacy Development Corporation on how much they will pay towards conversion costs for the £429 million ($691 million/€528 million) venue.

The Premeir League club were given "preferred bidder" status for the Olympic Stadium last December and the Legacy Company were expected to rubber-stamp the move this week after the Premier League club upped their annual rent offer.

But the two sides are still finalising an agreement on how much West ham will contribute to the £160 million ($260 million/€200 million) conversion costs, which will see a new cantilevered roof installed at the Stratford venue, as well as retractable seats that will cover the athletics track during football matches.

The Legacy Company want West Ham to put up more than the £15 million ($24 million/€19 million) they have offered, with Newham Council set to provide £40 million ($65 million/€49 million) for the conversion.

Money for the works will also come from the public purse.

Mayor of London and Legacy Company chairman Boris Johnson claimed that there have been positive talks and that a deal is close to being completed.

"There has been a lot of progress, I won't hide that," Johnson said

"Good conversations have been going on.

"Tax payers put a huge amount of money into building an iconic stadium and they put further money in to doing it up.

"We have got to get the best possible terms for the tax payer."

Boris JohnsonMayor of London and LLDC chairman Boris Johnson says positive talks are taking place with West Ham about a move to the Olympic Stadium

The Legacy Company are hopeful a deal can be signed within weeks rather than months so that the venue can be converted in time to stage matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which England is hosting.

The venue has already been shortlisted for the tournament but organisers will need to know by the end of next month whether they will be able to use the Olympic Stadium in order to schedule matches there.

"It would be great to do it [the 2015 Rugby World Cup at the Olympic Stadium]," said Johnson.

"We are looking at it.

"I have asked our engineers to see whether we can make it work."

The Legacy Company has already negotiated a cut of any profits that are earned should West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan sell the club, although both say they have no intention of selling up.

West Ham have also promised to pay back any additional costs to the Legacy Company for the Olympic Stadium conversion in the next 10 years while they have also struck an agreement in which any usage costs for matches played at the venue over their pre-arranged quota will be paid in full.

This could potentially earn the Legacy Company significant sums in extra revenue, which would see West Ham playing matches at the ground from the 2016-2017 season.

Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz


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