Moore Stephens Inquiry – Wrap-Up

The Moore Stephens Inquiry into the issues around West Ham’s use of the Olympic Stadium reported in December 2017.

The inquiry itself came about in part because of the pressure exerted over the issue by this campaign.

Below, we have provided a wrap-up of the issues, distilling the major points about the background to the report, what caused it to come about, and some of its findings, in the context of this campaign.

Enquiries can be made to the Olympic Stadium Coalition via the contact us page

  • The Olympic Stadium Coalition (OSC) is a group of 14 supporters’ trusts and supporters organisations, which exists to pursue a fairer deal for the taxpayer in respect of the Olympic Stadium and use of it by West Ham United.
  • One of our first acts was to launch a petition seeking a full Public Inquiry into the issue, though sought at the minimum an inquiry by a competent public authority. When London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced the Moore Stephens Inquiry, we welcomed it as a response to our demands. We were invited to provide evidence.
  • We felt that our concerns had been fully considered and professionally scrutinised
    The Inquiry has been published and we believe it provides a compelling case for a re-balancing of the finances of the Stadium so that West Ham, a rich Premier League club, pay more, and the taxpayer pays less.
  • The LLDC defended the cost of readying the Stadium for West Ham’s use (£323m) on the grounds that operating profits would return that outlay to the taxpayer
  • The Inquiry exposes the delusion of this argument. In fact in the first 10 years of operation, losses of £140m are now forecast
  • The main reasons for this loss are the eye-watering cost of the so-called ‘removable seating’, and the failure to obtain revenue from a stadium naming rights sponsor.
  • The Inquiry backs up the OSC’s long standing complaint that the ‘Concession Agreement’ relieves West Ham of the overhead costs which all other clubs have to bear. The rental West Ham pays does not even cover those costs, let alone deliver revenue that repays the cost of the stadium
  • The Inquiry estimates that, just to break even, West Ham should be paying a rent of £11.5m per annum
  • The first bid for the stadium, involving a joint venture between West Ham and the London Borough of Newham was aborted due to legal challenges and the fear of a State Aid investigation. In that plan, West Ham were happy to retain a permanent athletics track, and a fabric roof on the stadium which left the first five rows uncovered
  • It was only in the second, successful bid that West Ham insisted on retractable seating to bring fans closer to the pitch and a full extended roof to cover all the fans.
  • Up until now West Ham have adopted an aggressive strategy of seeking to enforce every unclear aspect of the Concession Agreement in its favour. It is taking the LLDC to court in autumn 2018, claiming that the stadium capacity should be expanded to 66,000, with all costs falling on the LLDC and hence the taxpayer. The OSC has itself so far found nothing in the Concession Agreement that leads a reasonable person to support West Ham’s viewpoint

The OSC believes that with all these facts now out in the open, West Ham United should consider its reputation as a football club, and its position as a good corporate citizen of London. It should recognise that the cost of meeting requirements which West Ham itself previously did not consider to be essential, have ballooned way beyond expectations at the time of the signing of the agreement. These costs threaten the financial viability of the entire project. West Ham should now offer increased payments in the form of usage fees which fully reflect costs. We hope that politicians and those close to West Ham can mediate if necessary to persuade the Club of the wisdom of making such an offer.

You can download the report in full via this link (pdf document)

 

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Newham Council retire from co-ownership of ‘financially unsustainable’ Olympic stadium

BBC Sport Editor Dan Roan has just posted the news that Newham are pulling out of the co-ownership of the Olympic Stadium (below.)

After several years of hard work by the OS Campaign, we have achieved disclosure of information we were told could not be published, and achieved an inquiry appointed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, that we were told would never happen, and which has reported this morning, detailing the ‘mismanagement of London [Olympic] Stadium finances by the previous Mayor’ (Boris Johnson): https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/mayor-london/our-publications/independent-review-olympic-stadium

Huge credit must go to the 14 organisations that have made up this campaign, and continued to work on it whilst the story disappeared from the headlines.

This doesn’t mark the end of the campaign, but it does finally place in the public domain, the recognition of one of our central arguments.

Campaign to give evidence to Mayor’s OS Inquiry

After several months of patient waiting, the Olympic Stadium Coalition has finally been asked to give evidence to the independent inquiry established by Sadiq Khan, which is being undertaken by ‘Global risk investigations and dispute advisory’ specialists, Moore Stephens

Richard Hunt from the Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust, will be representing the campaign, and speaking to them at a mutually agreed date very soon.

More as we have it.

OS Coalition meeting at City Hall

Olympic Stadium Coalition
Press release: 15/12/2016

For immediate release

OS Coalition meeting at City Hall

As part of its continued campaign on the costs of the Olympic (‘London’) Stadium, the Olympic Stadium Coalition has met with Liberal Democrat, Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, to discuss London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s promise of an investigation into the finances of the cost of the development.

They issued the following statement

‘As a campaign we have put a great deal of work into uncovering the facts of the case, and ensuring that it’s in the hands of the people with the power to effect change and influence. We’ve worked hard to ensure support from across the political spectrum, and we’re immensely grateful to Caroline Pidgeon, Conservative AM Andrew Boff, and former Labour AM Murad Qureshi, who have put a considerable amount of work into this issue for some time.

‘We hope to meet with Sadiq Khan, and we will be writing to him to disclose the significant information we’ve gathered about the operational costs of the stadium and its cost to the UK taxpayer. Ultimately, we’re seeking to ensure that it does the least damage possible to Premier League and EFL clubs not just in London, but across the country.’

OS Coalition Statement

City Hall HDR

Olympic Stadium Coalition

Press release: 02/11/2016

For immediate release

Statement in response to announcement of Mayoral enquiry into spiralling stadium costs

The Olympic Stadium Coalition has welcomed the news of the London Mayor’s Sadiq Khan’s investigation into the finances of the Olympic (‘London’) Stadium with the following statement:

‘This is a breakthrough in our long campaign to highlight the intolerable burden on taxpayers of the rebuilding of the Olympic Stadium to the specification of a well off Premier League football club.

‘We have never objected to the idea of West Ham playing at the stadium; the question is simply one of how much the club should pay, and how much the taxpayer should be expected to fund.
‘Our attempts to seek transparency have been blocked at every turn by the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council. It took two years for us to obtain release of the full rental contract under Freedom of Information law. We believe that all taxpayers deserve to be made fully aware of just how much we are all paying, and how much West Ham United are paying towards both capital and operating costs.

Only this week, we have learnt that the naming rights deal for the stadium has fallen through. As a result we believe this means the stadium will operate at a loss for the foreseeable future, especially if the police seek to recharge the costs of their increased presence at the stadium due to crowd control issues. The entire deal, and not just the rebuild costs, should be examined in detail, by the Mayor and the taxpayer.”

We hope to be able to meet the Mayor to present him with the significant information that we have gathered about the operational costs of the stadium.

‘Supporters trusts from across the country and across the divisions formed the Olympic Stadium Coalition, and have worked continuously to uncover the details of the deal. The Mayor’s investigation is good news, a good starting point, but it is only a start.’

—————-Ends————

Campaign Update

It’s been quite a while since we posted an update on this website. Obviously since April when the judgment was found in favour of our campaign for publication, the Olympic Stadium and many of the problems associated with it have been in the news a great deal. We have been busy ourselves, and as this is an entirely volunteer-led and run campaign, sometimes things don’t move as quickly as we’d like.

This is some of what we’ve been doing:

1. Investigating the contract

The contract is itself a complex document that required a great deal of investigation. Specifically, it raises a whole series of other questions and issues that themselves needed investigation, and in some case further enquiries made.

2. Speaking with our friends and supporters

We’ve also been speaking with some of those who have supported our campaign about what the next steps should be. There is a lot of support to continue to ensure that the current deal is fairer to the taxpayer and to football.

We’re nearly ready to move ahead with our next steps, so keep an ear out for more news.