West Ham 'On The Brink' Of Being Named Preferred Bidders Of Olympic Stadium
EPL West Ham United is "on the brink of being named preferred bidders for the Olympic Stadium," according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Final negotiations over who will fund the conversion of the arena are ongoing, and a "decisive meeting" will be held next week. The London Legacy Development Corp. board will meet Wednesday and is "increasingly likely to make a final decision on the stadium, with West Ham expected to be named as the primary tenants." A final deal depends on a successful conclusion to negotiations over a funding gap of between £20M (32M) and £40M ($64M). However, there are "rising expectations" that an agreement will be reached between London Mayor & LLDC Chair Boris Johnson, West Ham and the central government to "bring the stadium saga to a close" (TELEGRAPH, 11/28).
MONEY MATTERS: In London, Owen Gibson noted the timescale for making a decision "has slipped several times already," and Johnson, currently in India on tour to boost British business, is "determined to reach a conclusion before Christmas." West Ham has increased its upfront offer from £10M to £15M ($16M to $24M), Newham Council is willing to increase its loan from £40M to £70M ($64M to $112M) and £38M ($61M) is available from the Olympic budget toward conversion costs, there is believed to still be a gap of about £20M ($32M) to be filled (GUARDIAN, 11/28). Also in London, Ashling O'Connor reported sources close to the discussions say that Johnson could find an extra £10M ($16M) in City Hall’s budget if West Ham can match that figure to cover a £20M ($32M) funding gap. To secure the 99-year contract, the club "would need to offer a larger cash sum to help fund "an ambitious upgrade," which includes retractable seats over the running track. Johnson is supporting West Ham’s bid, despite "reservations from other board members over the large capital outlay." The business plan for the stadium forecasts a £2M ($3.2M) annual loss without EPL football, compared with a £4.8M ($7.7M) profit including it (LONDON TIMES, 11/29).