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West Ham look winners despite Government decision

Football News 24/7
The Olympic Stadium is set to remain in public ownership although West Ham United still hope to become a tenant there in the future according to West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady;

'West Ham will look to become a tenant of the stadium while Newham will aim to help deliver the legacy.' she said yesterday when news broke about the Government's U turn over the future of the Olympic Stadium.

It had appeared earlier in the year that the Championship side had secured a switch to the venue following the London 2012 Games but it now appears that the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) have ended negotiations with the Hammers amid concerns over delays caused by the ongoing legal dispute with Tottenham.

Both Spurs and Leyton Orient are contesting the original decision to award the stadium to West Ham claiming that the Hammers' reliance on a £40million loan from Newham Council is effectively state aid.

The UK Government on Tuesday confirmed it would not offload the stadium to West Ham and Newham Council after revealing further details about the new plan to keep the facility in public ownership following next year’s Games. The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has been instructed to start a new process to secure tenants after February’s original decision to award the stadium to West Ham sparked legal challenges from Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient.

Whilst the  OPLC has cited their fear of 'legal paralysis' as the major resaon for the about turn the decision is seen by many as a thinly veiled ploy to ensure the Olympic Stadium, which cost £500 million to develop, maintains its athletics component as London attempts to secure the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.

The £35 million cost of downsizing the stadium from its 80,000-seat capacity after the Olympics is already budgeted for within the £9.3 billion public sector funding package for the Games. Any tenants will then pay an annual rent to the OPLC, with early reports placing this figure at £2 million, and West Ham has already expressed its desire to bid again.

“Our bid is the only one that will secure the sporting and community legacy promise of the Olympic Stadium," said West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady and London Borough of Newham chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry in a joint statement. “The true legacy of London 2012 will be the creation of jobs and a generation of young people inspired by sport based around a community home for all by 2014. We remain committed to help deliver that legacy promise to the people of London and the nation.”

There is no news on whether this decision will see other bidders, especially Tottenham,  but on the face of it the 'leasing' arrangement might work out better financially for the West Ham depending on what assets are realised by the re-development of their current stadium.

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