The "toxic relationship" between West Ham United and its London Stadium landlord has reportedly resulted in a £100M ($140M)-plus legal row that will see them "face off at the High Court in November," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. When West Ham moved into the stadium last season under the "deal of the century," the club believed it would be entitled to a capacity of 60,000, but London Legacy Development Corp. said that the figure was just 53,500. A compromise "was reached that guaranteed West Ham an additional 3,500 seats." However, West Ham wants permission to fill all of the stadium's 66,000 seats, "which could be worth millions of pounds each year" to the club in increased ticket revenue. With LLDC "demanding payment for anything above 57,000," the club has brought the lawsuit against the authority. The legal dispute is a "new low in the complex relationship between the two sides" since West Ham became a tenant at the Olympic Stadium for an annual fee of £2.5M ($3.5M). The additional seats "could provide West Ham with significantly increased ticket revenue." One element of its lawsuit is a loss-of-earnings claim for being prevented from using those seats this season (TELEGRAPH, 3/12).
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Sports Minister Stuart Ayres "have doubled down on their commitment to knock down and rebuild two Sydney stadiums" but a final decision on the "controversial" A$2.5B ($1.96B) policy "could still be weeks away," according to Alexandra Smith of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The decision to rebuild Allianz Stadium at Moore Park had been expected to go to the government's expenditure review committee on Wednesday, "paving the way for a final approval." But it is not on the committee's agenda and the business case for ANZ Stadium at Homebush is not expected to be finalized for another month, so the government is "now likely to consider both projects together." Berejiklian's office would not comment on cabinet matters, but in a statement she said, "NSW deserves the best cultural facilities, including world class stadiums." Ayres, the government's "strongest supporter of the policy," said that "its position had not shifted and it would push ahead with two new stadiums." Three western Sydney business groups urged the government to establish an NSW Global Events Taskforce "to ensure Sydney has a chance" when it comes to bidding for at least five major global sporting events, including Commonwealth Games and football World Cups. Despite the commitment from Berejiklian and Ayres, Deputy Premier John Barilaro has insisted the policy is not a done deal and a "final decision" still has to be made (SMH, 3/14).
'PREMIER STATE': In Sydney, Caldwell & Brennan reported National Rugby League Chair Peter Beattie issued a warning to Sydney saying that it "might as well give up to Melbourne" and relinquish its "premier state" title if it does not want to invest in "bringing the city's iconic stadiums up to scratch." In an "impassioned call" for "straight talk" to convince the "faint-hearted," Beattie said that the investment proposed for stadiums was "chicken feed" when held up against the rest of the budget and "would inspire a whole generation of children to value sport and become more active." Beattie: "The reality is Sydney is Australia's largest city -- it should be a world leader attracting events internationally and to do that it needs the best facilities. And if not, well, give up to Melbourne if you want to. That's fine but don't pretend you want to be a leader. You won't be the premier state as you once called yourself." Calling on "every rugby league supporter in the state" to get behind the stadiums investment, Beattie said that it was "not only good for the game but good for the community" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/13).