West Ham Olympic deal collapses
The BBC is reporting that West Ham’s bid to make the Olympic Stadium its new home has collapsed amid concerns over the ongoing legal delay with Tottenham Hotspur.
The deal has been fraught by disputes and controversy with West Ham’s decision to retain the running track leading to criticism, while Tottenham has been progressing its own stadium plans while attempting to legally block the move by West Ham and the London Borough of Newham.
It is believed that a new tender process will be opened this week for an anchor tenant with West Ham set to bid to become the tenant. Interested bidders will have to submit proposals by January.
Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn said the club will now be seeking costs associated with its legal case fighting the decision to award West Ham use of the stadium post-Games (see box).
Construction work could still take place post-Olympics however with a fund of £50 million set aside from public money to convert the 80,000-capacity stadium to a 60,000-seater venue afterwards.
West Ham United vice chairman Karren Brady and Newham Borough chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry statement:
“We understand ministers will make a statement later and will not pre-empt that. Uncertainty caused by the anonymous complaint to the European Commission and ongoing legal challenges have put the Olympic legacy at risk and certainly a stadium, as we envisioned it, may not be in place by 2014 due as a direct result of the legal delay.
“Therefore we would welcome a move by OPLC and government to end that uncertainty and allow a football and athletics stadium to be in place by 2014 under a new process. If the speculation is true, West Ham will look to become a tenant of the stadium while Newham will aim to help deliver the legacy.
“Our bid is the only one that will secure the sporting and community legacy promise of the Olympic Stadium - an amazing year-round home for football, athletics and community events of which the nation could be proud.
“The true legacy of London 2012 will be the creation of jobs and a generation of young people inspired by sport based around a community home for all by 2014. We remain committed to help deliver that legacy promise to the people of London and the nation.”
Both Spurs and Leyton Orient are challenging the original decision to award the stadium to West Ham because of their reliance on a £40m loan from Newham Council, which they say amounts to state aid.
London Mayor Boris Johnson had urged Spurs to accept a deal whereby £17m would be given to the club to progress stadium plans in North London.
We welcome the OPLC decision to end the current Olympic Stadium bid process. We firmly believe that the bid we put forward was, in fact, a realistic sporting solution for the stadium, along with a substantial return to the taxpayer, community programming and athletics provision.
Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn:
“For this whole case Leyton Orient has been beating up West Ham and Newham and landing punches. They were taking a beating, we were well ahead on points and about to knock them out when OPLC and the Government threw in the towel!
“This entirely vindicates the legal action taken by us to protect the future of the club in Leyton.
“The decision by the OPLC to award the Stadium to West Ham was fundamentally flawed, we were telling everyone but no one was listening to us.
“The expert witness evidence submitted to the parties by our Solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, last week in the course of the Judicial Review process appears to have been the moment when it dawned upon Newham and the OPLC that this was the case and now they will have to think again
“We will be seeking an order for the payment of our considerable costs in defending what we firmly believed, and has now been confirmed, as right.”