Championship - West Ham Olympic Stadium deal collapses
Tue, 11 Oct 07:14:00 2011
The deal to award the London 2012 Olympic Stadium to West Ham has collapsed, the Government has confirmed.
Legal challenges by Tottenham and Leyton Orient, plus an anonymous complaint to the European Commission, led to fears that court action could drag on for years while the stadium remains empty.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson said that the stadium will remain in public ownership and leased out to an anchor tenant following a new tender process.
He said: "The key point is the action we have taken today is about removing the uncertainty. The process had become bogged down in legal paralysis.
"Particularly relevant has been the anonymous complaint to the EC over 'state aid' and the OPLC received a letter from Newham Council yesterday (Monday) saying because of the uncertainty they no longer wanted to proceed.
West Ham Olympic Stadium deal falls through
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back and we thought it better to stop it dead in its tracks now."
It is likely that under the new tender process any costs of transforming the stadium after the 2012 Games will be covered by the Olympic Park Legacy Company. Prospective tenants will then be asked to bid for the stadium with the running track remaining in place.
The tenants would pay an annual rent to the OPLC which could actually prove to be less costly for the likes of West Ham.
A joint statement from West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady and Kim Bromley-Derry, chief executive of the London Borough of Newham, said:
"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."
The move will also remove uncertainty over the stadium ahead of London's bid for the 2017 world athletics championships, although that was not a major consideration in the decision to abandon the current deal.
The Government, the London Mayor's office and the OPLC have moved to scrap the current deal in order to try to end the legal challenges over the stadium's ownership.
There has been an anonymous complaint to the European Commission, claiming that the £40 million being provided by Newham to West Ham represented 'state aid'. That complaint was regarded with particular concern with worries that it could take years to come to a conclusion.
There were also fears that the application for a judicial review by Spurs and Orient could drag on and even if their bids failed they could appeal.PA Sport