West Ham United’s annual rent of £2.5m to play at the London Stadium does not cover the cost of staging matches at the venue, it has emerged.
West Ham has played at the stadium, which served as the hub of the 2012 London Olympic Games, since August 2016.
The stadium has been beset by a number of financial problems in recent years and landlord the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has now revealed that West Ham’s annual rent does not cover “event-day costs”.
Speaking at a London Assembly meeting, Lyn Garner, chief executive of the LLDC, said, according to the BBC: “To be honest, what is really driving the problems here are the low rents paid by the concessionaires, particularly West Ham.
“The elephant in the room is the fee that they pay us in a usage cost does not cover the event-day costs, and that’s before we go anywhere near a commercial advantage. It simply does not cover the costs of running the events on a day-to-day basis.
“The stadium is a centrepiece of the legacy of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s really important that we tackle the public subsidy issue over the next few years. There is much to do and many reasons for it.”
Last month it emerged that West Ham was seeking to change the colour of the material around the playing surface at the stadium amid concerns it is too close to the navy blue of rival Tottenham Hotspur.
West Ham reportedly offered to pay £380,000 for the new surround but this was rejected by the LLDC, which, according to The Times, wants the club to pay a £325,000 annual fee.
“No other Premier League football club has such an opportunity to have a track cover with its colours on,” Garner said. “We think that the club should pay not a one-off cost for the track cover but an annual fee.”
A naming-rights deal for the stadium has not yet been signed and the LLDC has suffered financially as a result.
In a forthright statement reported by both the BBC and The Times, West Ham said yesterday: “West Ham United initially offered to purchase London Stadium but our request was denied. We were given a tenancy agreement because we were the best offer by far on the table.
“As LLDC acknowledged at the hearing today the losses at the stadium are due to a number of factors, including the extraordinary cost of moving the retractable seating, inefficient operating costs and the absence of a naming rights partner.
“There are other commercial opportunities that they have ignored. West Ham United have offered our experience, expertise and opportunities for shared endeavour every step of the way but these have so far been rejected, as well as considerable cash for additional rights, all of which have also been rejected.
“All we have ever done is honour the terms of our tenancy agreement which has 97 years to run.”