Boris Johnson: West Ham consider legal action to prevent release of Olympic Stadium deal
Last Updated: 16/09/15 7:14pm
London mayor Boris Johnson has claimed West Ham are considering taking legal action to prevent the full financial details of the club's move to the Olympic Stadium being disclosed.
The Hammers will leave the Boleyn Ground at the end of the current season and begin their 99-year deal as anchor tenants of the stadium, at a reported annual cost of £2.5m, from the start of the 2016/17 campaign.
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham have attempted to block any release of information, insisting that details of the deal involving the largely taxpayer-funded stadium must remain private for commercial confidentiality.
However, during Mayor's questions at London's City Hall on Wednesday, Johnson insisted he would have no problem publishing the deal which will see West Ham assume the stadium's use for up to 25 days of the year.
Johnson, instead, claimed it was West Ham that were unwilling to release the entire figures of their move.
"I would be perfectly happy to publish the details of this arrangement. But I understand the football club concerned is not so keen because they think it would give other clubs an insight into their finances," Johnson said.
"I think they may be trying to take legal action on that point. The jist of the matter is that this has actually 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 and it is basically unlike any other Olympic Stadium around the world.
"It has a long-term viable future, with Premier League football at the heart of the deal. I thought that was the right way forward for London and the right way for the Olympic Stadium. There are stadiums like that which are totally moth-balled, that don't have any real activation. Go to Athens, Beijing… this has been a great success and a good investment for London."
The Information Commissioner has ruled that the terms of the deal must be made public, after Freedom of Information was requested by the Supporters Trusts' campaign.
The LLDC has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal, but the coalition of groups has called on Johnson, as head of the LLDC, not to do so.
Johnson added: "We have been very up front. The reason we have not published the details so far is because we have only just concluded the last letting of the contract and hospitality areas.
"We did not want to put anything out that would impact upon our ability to negotiate future contracts. The main contract breakdown as you know: £189m for the main transformation works, £17m for the retractable seating, £7m for the hospitality fit out, £7m for the pre-transformation works.
"The funding for the transformation works comes from a number of different sources: £40m from the London Borough of Newham, £15m from West Ham United Football Club and so on.
"I am very happy to release all the details, but it is the club who are not happy to do this and they are considering at the moment taking legal action to protect their rights to privacy on that front."
Despite fierce questioning from his fellow MP's, Johnson remained convinced the deal for West Ham to assume use of the Olympic Stadium is positive for the future of London.
"I think we should be rather proud that we have got a Premier League football team in the stadium. Most of the public spending was to deliver the biggest cantilever roof for the stadium and it is doing wonders," he said.
"I think rather than carping and being miserable, you should congratulate the LLDC on the deal they have done."