TUESDAY 25 AUGUST 2015
Calls for a public inquiry into the secretive deal between the London Legacy Development Committee and West Ham United Football Club for the rental of the Olympic Stadium have now gone national. Since an unprecedented alliance of London fan groups, led by Charlton & Leyton Orient fans, launched a petition on the No10 website last Wednesday, over 21,000 people have signed – making it the fastest growing petition on the site.
Another London fan group, AFC Wimbledon’s Dons Trust, has since added their name to the list of supporters. And now the call is being taken up nationally.
Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust, Everton’s Blue Union, Leicester City’s Foxes Trust , Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and Norwich City’s Canaries Trust have all added their weight to calls for the public inquiry.
That call was initially made by Shadow Secretary of State Chris Bryant, and he has now been joined by David Lammy,MP and London Mayoral candidate. Additionally, GLA members have also asked to meet representatives of fan groups.
The sheer range of support clearly demonstrates two things. First, the enormous public concern at the use of taxpayers’ money in a deal which has been kept largely secret due, in one instance, to reasons of “national security”. And second, that concerns over this deal go beyond football rivalry.
A campaign spokesperson said: “We have no objection to West Ham United using the stadium. What we do object to is any club being handed an unfair advantage, and especially if that is at taxpayer expense.
“It’s being suggested that this campaign is fuelled by ‘envy, jealousy and rivalry’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The speed at which the petition is being signed, and the sheer range of clubs from all divisions and all across the country that support the call for an inquiry shows that there is a serious issue to be considered.
It’s also being suggested that the deal in place is good for the taxpayer. If that is the case, there should be no objection to letting the taxpayer see this for themselves.”
The organisations supporting this call are:
- Arsenal Supporters’ Trust
- Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust
- The Blue Union (Everton)
- Canaries Trust (Norwich City)
- Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust
- Chelsea Supporters’ Trust
· Crystal Palace Supporters’ Trust
· The Dons Trust (AFC Wimbledon)
· The Foxes Trust (Leicester City)
· Fulham Supporters’ Trust
· Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust
· Manchester United Supporters’ Trust
· QPR1st Supporters’ Trust
· Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust
Launch a full public inquiry into the deal agreed between West Ham United and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) for the rental of the Olympic Stadium
We believe public money should be used responsibly, fairly, and in a way which does not distort the competitiveness of independent sports bodies and businesses. Yet, West Ham has only contributed £15m towards the £272m conversion costs of the Olympic Stadium, with the taxpayer footing the rest of the bill. The club has been allowed to keep the entire proceeds of the sale of their current stadium, last valued in their own accounts at £71m. Rental is said to be £2.5m per annum, dropping by half to £1.25m should West Ham be relegated, but recent revelations show that the taxpayer will also be picking up the costs of stadium utilities, security, maintaining the pitch, and even the goalposts and corner flags - estimated to be worth between £1.4m and £2.5m a year. Considering the cost to the taxpayer, and the effect of this taxpayer subsidy on competition between clubs, a full public inquiry into the deal is needed.