The war of words between West Ham United and their taxpayer-funded landlords escalated again on Monday when the London Stadium owners claimed they are now spending £70,000 extra per game because of the club's fans.
Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of London Legacy Development Corporation, angrily denied the club's "extremely serious and damaging" allegations that his organisation had given misleading information about their financial agreement.
In an open letter to the London Assembly, Sir Peter said costs had gone up again since estimates last season that the LLDC was losing £2million a year as a result of the deal which allows West Ham use the ground for an annual rent of £2.675 million. "Since then costs have increased, not least because the behaviour of a small minority of West Ham fans at the end of last season means we now spend more on security," he wrote. "Each match so far this season costs an average of around £270,000 to stage."
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West Ham responded furiously last week after Lyn Garner, the chief executive of LLDC, told the London Assembly: "The elephant in the room is the fee they pay us for usage costs does not cover the event-day costs." The club claimed the LLDC receives £10 million annually in rent and associated income. "West Ham United are concerned that this is deliberately misleading the public and, more importantly, taxpayers," the club said.
However, Sir Peter said in his letter to the London authority: "This is an extremely serious and damaging statement to make against public officials appearing before elected Assembly Members and [we] will be asking West Ham to retract the claim. In the meantime, I wanted to reassure the Assembly that we are working in a proper and considered way. I will also be making this letter public because there was media coverage of the West Ham statement including reports that we 'lied'."
He denied West Ham's claims that the LLDC is receiving £10m a season because of the tenancy deal. He added: "We have secured extra payments from the club for additional rights – an example of this is extra advertising space which they have sold on. It means that West Ham pays us around £3m a season." In addition, he said, the LLDC receives "around £30,000 per game" from catering, but "not the £6m a year claimed in the West Ham press release".
"You can see from these figures that their claim that we enjoy £10m from our association with West Ham is simply wrong and the money we generate from West Ham does not cover the cost of putting on the match days," he added.
The London Assembly heard last Thursday that the LLDC had made a £22m loss and its accounts also revealed a £1.8m provision to pay potential bills from legal action with West Ham as well as the company it employs to operate the stadium. West Ham won a legal arbitration over a number of disputes last month but the disagreement over the running track cover is as intense as ever.
Sir Peter added: "This country is lucky to have such a fantastic stadium putting on world beating events. Our job is to get real value for London’s taxpayers. We won’t give away the benefits of the London Stadium for nothing - be that to West Ham or anyone else."
The club have offered to pay £380,000 if a claret cover is installed but the LLDC has asked for a £300,000 annual fee to cover commercial advantages.