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 By PA Sport

West Ham to pay £2.5m per season to play at the Olympic Stadium

David Gold, the joint chairman of West Ham United, stands in front of the club's new home ground.

West Ham will pay £2.5 million a season to play 25 games at the Olympic Stadium, documents published on Thursday have revealed.

On Monday, an information tribunal rejected The London Legacy Development Corporation's (LLDC) appeal against a London Assembly ruling that the contract between it and West Ham should be made public.

The details of the funding for the Olympic Stadium, built for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, have subsequently been published.

The deal has drawn widespread criticism from West Ham's Premier League rivals and public funding watchdogs as being too low.

Jonathan Isaby, the chief executive of pressure group The TaxPayers' Alliance, said the contract was "ludicrously generous" and "the deal of the century" for West Ham.

"Those of us footing the bills deserve a proper explanation," he added.

West Ham's contract means they will pay £48,077 per week over the course of a 99-year lease, with the annual rent working out at close to the predicted gate receipts for one Premier League home game.

It has also been revealed that the LLDC must meet running costs for areas including utilities, pitch preparations (including under-soil heating and floodlights), along with goalposts, nets, and corner flags.

Costs will also be met for the dugouts for managers, substitutes and the fourth official; changing rooms and security, cleaning and pest control.

The contract also shows that the Hammers would make a greater contribution than £2.5m if they were to play more than 25 games per season, while the first £4m of any naming rights for the stadium would go to LLDC -- with any figure above that split 50-50 between LLDC and West Ham.

The Hammers have also paid just £15m towards the reported renovation costs of £272m needed to turn the athletics venue into a football ground.

An LLDC spokesman said: "We are disappointed by the tribunal's decision. Our motivation in bringing this case has been to protect millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

"The stadium needs to be a profitable and successful commercial operation, otherwise it will rely on public subsidy.

"We were concerned that the publication of this contract and the precedent it may set for future agreements could make it harder to do this.

"However, we have decided not to seek leave to appeal, and have today made the contract available on our website."

Former Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn, who failed in a bid for his club to share the stadium, criticised the LLDC for letting West Ham off lightly and said his dog "could have negotiated a better deal."

"It's a hugely beneficial deal to West Ham and good luck to them. They've negotiated a good deal," he told the BBC.

"I can't say the same for the LLDC, who should go back to negotiation school. My dog could have negotiated a better deal for the taxpayer."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who oversaw the Gunners' move from Highbury to the £390m, 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium amid accompanied straitened spending on players, last week compared West Ham's situation with winning the lottery.

The Hammers were awarded a 99-year tenancy of the 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, and will leave their Upton Park home this summer.

Tottenham lost their bid to be lead tenant and are now building their own stadium, adjacent to their White Hart Lane home, at an estimated cost of £750m.

Football finance expert Rob Wilson, of Sheffield Hallam University, told Press Association Sport it was clear why some of West Ham's Premier League rivals might complain about the deal.

"They've really got it for a steal. Anything £5m and upwards would have been an appropriate figure that would probably give better value to the taxpayer," he said.

"The costs to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will be far, far greater and you can probably understand why some of West Ham's closest competitors in the Premier League are saying this is competitively unfair. They've got much more disposable income."

The Hammers are due to move into the stadium in time for the start of the 2016-17 season.

The venue is also to host the 2017 IAAF and IPC Athletics World Championships, and there is a 50-year agreement for British Athletics to use it each July.

In a statement on their website, West Ham said: "While someone renting the stadium for 25 days a year cannot be responsible for 365 days' running costs, going by our performances this season we hope to deliver additional revenue to the stadium via extended cup runs and big European nights.

"This will secure the international exposure and additional usage and revenue that may now be more challenging for the stadium owners to find elsewhere as a result of this ruling."

The Olympic Stadium Coalition, a coalition of 14 supporters' trusts and groups, had been campaigning for the contract to be published.

It said it would take time to digest the 207-page report and added on its website: "We would first like to thank the LLDC for finally seeing common sense and publishing what appears to be the full agreement.

"This is the right decision for the taxpayer, and the right decision for football."


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