West Ham FC and the Olympic Stadium

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-09-16
Session date: 
September 16, 2015
Reference: 
2015/2800
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

Will you publish the details of the agreements concerning conversion, rent, running and security costs between West Ham FC and  the London Legacy Development Corporation for the Olympic Stadium?

Answer

Answer for West Ham FC and the Olympic Stadium

Answer for West Ham FC and the Olympic Stadium

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks, Andrew.  I would be perfectly happy to publish the details of this arrangement.  I understand that the football club concerned is not so keen because they think it will give other clubs an insight into their finances and so on and so forth.  They may be trying to take legal action on that point. 

The gist of the matter is that actually this has been a fantastic success.  The Stadium is doing brilliantly.  It had a brilliant summer.  I am sure it will do very well during the Rugby World Cup.  It is basically unlike any other Olympic Stadium around the world.  It has a long-term viable future, with Premiership football at the heart of the deal.  That was the right way forward for London and the right way forward for the Olympic Stadium.  There are Olympic stadiums around the world that are totally mothballed and do not have any real activation in them; go to Athens or Beijing.  This has been a great success and a good investment for London.

Andrew Dismore AM:  I am pleased to hear that you are prepared to release the data.  You have just been told to do so by the Information Commissioner, have you not.  The fact is –

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  What we’ve had -- 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Let me ask the question.  I am rather surprised that you did not actually refer to the Information Commission’s decision in your update statement at the start of the meeting.  The fact is up until now you have fought to keep the deal secret because you wanted to cover up the fact that West Ham have put one over on you and have taken you to the cleaners.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  Absolutely not.  We have been very upfront.  The reason we have not published the detail so far is because we have only just concluded the last letting of the contracts on the hospitality areas.  We did not want to put anything out that would impact on our ability to negotiate future contracts. 

The main contract breakdown, as you know: £189 million to Balfour Beatty for the main transformation works; £17 million for the Alto retractable seating; £7 million for the hospitality fit-out; and £7 million for Careys for the pre-transformation enabling works.  The funding for the transformation work comes from a variety of different sources: £40 million from the London Borough of Newham, £15 million from West Ham United; £38 million from public sector funding  and so on. 

Andrew Dismore AM:  The fact is that West Ham have only paid 5.5% of the conversion costs.  They are only paying about £2 million in rent.  It is true, is it not, they do not have to pay for security, they do not have to pay for policing, they do not have to pay for stewarding, they do not have to pay for the turnstile staff, they do not have to pay for ground maintenance, they do not even have to pay for goalposts and corner flags, do they?  In fact it is worth far more than their rent.  They even get to keep all the ticket sales, and that is £18 million just for the VIP seats and boxes alone never mind the ordinary season ticketholders and casual people.  The fact is they have taken you to the cleaners, have they not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am very happy to release all the details.  It is the Club themselves that are not happy to do this.  They are proposing at the moment to take legal action to protect their right to privacy on that point.  Frankly, I rather agree with you.  It should be a matter of public record.  You should be very proud of the fact we have got a Premiership football team in that stadium. 

Most of the public spending was on delivering the biggest cantilevered roof in the world for the stadium.  It is doing wonders. 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Let us look at deals around the world, shall we. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I think rather than cavilling and carping and being miserable, you should congratulate the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) on the deal it has done.

Andrew Dismore AM:  I am pleased you have been converted to transparency, Mr Mayor.  Manchester City [football club, FC] pays all its overheads plus £1 million a year to use the former Commonwealth Games Stadium.  Chelsea [FC]  and Tottenham [Hotspur FC], if they have to use Wembley while their stadiums are redeveloped, will pay between £11 and £15 million a year.  In Europe, [AFC] Ajax pays €9 million a year to the Amsterdam Council.  The fact is the European Union (EU) has already started a state aid investigation into seven Spanish and five Dutch football clubs.  This deal is anti-competitive, giving an unfair advantage to West Ham over the other football clubs and is also likely in breach of EU state aid rules.  That is why they want it kept secret, is it not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  We are confident that it is not in breach of any state aid rules, nor is it anti-competitive.  The difficulty, as you will recall, was that the stadium that was built for the Olympic and Paralympic Games was not suitable for Premiership football.  That was because of the wrong decisions that were taken by then Labour administration.  They did not build a stadium in which a Premiership football club would want to operate.  We had to sort out that mess.  It was perfectly obvious to me, as soon as I got here, that we could not have a long-term future for the stadium without it hosting a Premiership club. 

Andrew Dismore AM:  You have done the deal, have you not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have made some transformations.  I am proud of them and it is a great asset for London.  It is going to be used not just for football but for rugby, for athletics, for rock concerts and for a huge number of wonderful things for London.

Andrew Dismore AM:  Eight London supporters’ groups have petitioned in London and 14 groups around the country.  Are you going to comply with the Information Commissioner’s ruling?  If West Ham is going to challenge, it will you stand up for those football supporters against any West Ham challenge?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  This is a deal between the LLDC and West Ham.  West Ham is currently not content to release it.  It must be given the right at least to appeal it.  As far as I am concerned: get it out there.  I have given you all the figures I have in front of me today.  We have nothing to hide.  We have a very good rental income coming in from West Ham.  We will be spending no more public money on this thing.  That is a fantastic achievement.  We should be proud of what the LLDC has done.

Andrew Dismore AM:  Will you join with those 14 supporter groups and eight in London in resting any attempt by West Ham to overturn the Information Commission’s decision?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have said what I have said.  I am very happy to have the information out there.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  He has answered.

Andrew Dismore AM:  He has not answered.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We think that this is a great ‑‑

Andrew Dismore AM:  He has flannelled and obfuscated and will not answer a straight question.  Will you join those football club supporters in resisting West Ham?

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  There is no point in constantly asking ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have given you the answer which is ‑‑

Andrew Dismore AM:  You have not given an answer.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have.

Andrew Dismore AM:  You have obfuscated and waffled, as usual.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  That will do.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Please, Mr Dismore.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  For Andrew Dismore to accuse anybody of waffling ‑‑

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  You have an answer.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  For Andrew Dismore to accuse anybody of waffling ‑‑

Andrew Dismore AM:  I do not have an answer.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  You do not like the answer.

Andrew Dismore AM:  It is not an answer, Chairman.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  That is the end of it.

Andrew Dismore AM:  It is not an answer.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is an answer.  I am very happy to put it out there.

Andrew Dismore AM:  He is the one that is thumping the table.  There was enough table-thumping earlier on.  He is doing it again now.  He is gavel-happy.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  We have heard from you.  We have heard from him.  That is it.  Never the twain shall meet.

Andrew Dismore AM:  You have gone gavel-happy today, have you not?

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  I am gavel-happy, absolutely.