Could West Ham United go from tenants to owners of the London Stadium for next to nothing?
That is surely becoming an increasingly tangible prospect in the medium to long term after the former Olympic Stadium was valued at a meagre £1.5million.
West Ham insiders Claret & Hugh claim the ground was given the dismal valuation in a report presented to the London Legacy Development Corporation board recently.
The stadium cost £750m to build and Claret & Hugh state that it continues to haemorrhage taxpayers money at the colossal rate of nearly £30m a year.
Stop the bleeding
At some stage the parties involved have to stop the bleeding, especially given the huge impact the pandemic has had on the country’s economy.
So could West Ham being edging ever close to realising co-owner David Sullivan’s grand plan of taking over or owning the ground in the not too distant future?
It has long been mooted that co-owners Sullivan and David Gold have always had one eye on permanently owning the former Olympic Stadium.
Sullivan and Gold have hinted they are keen to own the ground in the past.
‘Owning the stadium outright in the future is certainly a possibility’
When asked ‘Is your dad looking into the possibility of buying the London Stadium outright in the future?’ Sullivan told Sport Bible: “I cannot comment on that, but it is certainly a possibility.”
And Sullivan’s co-owner Gold added further weight to that theory. He once endorsed a tweet – by retweeting it – suggesting that could well be a solution in the future.
One Hammers fan wrote on Twitter: “The (stadium) situation is not beyond redemption. The stadium ownership is sure to come up again soon. At which point we could find ourselves sole owners with the opportunity to address all these issues.”
One of the big issues has always been the athletics legacy.
But when Birmingham was awarded the 2022 Commonwealth Games as Durban’s replacement host that too played into West Ham’s hands.
As part of Birmingham’s bid for the games the Alexander Stadium will be wonderfully upgraded and the plan is for it to become the new home of UK Athletics, as reported by Birmingham Mail at the time.
Athletics legacy a non-issue within two years
So with the athletics legacy a non-issue post 2022 and another £60million or more added to the LLDC debt pile by then, Sullivan – West Ham’s majority owner and big decision maker – could ride in on his white horse and take the problem off everyone’s hands.
That would then enable the owners to make the changes that are so desperately needed to the ground.
Until supporters are brought significantly closer to the pitch the London Stadium will never feel like home for supporters.
Hammers fans gave up their beloved Upton Park on the promise they would be close to the action.
But the seats, particularly on both sides of the pitch, are a yawning chasm away from the action/. That is due to the bowl configuration of the LS that is required for athletics.
Get the stadium on the cheap and those changes – costly though they would be – become a genuine possibility.
It is one big poker game. But West Ham hold all the chips.