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West Ham annoyed with Hearn


West Ham are annoyed with Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn, claiming on their website that he has made 'inaccurate staments' in relation to the Olympic Stadium bid.   They argue that he has committed breaches of confidentiality.

The club has a confidentiality agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which is in final negotiations with four bidders, which prevent it from revealing details of its bid.

Hearn claimed that to award the winter tenancy of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham alone would amount to subsidising a club who are £90m in debt.   He urged Lonndon Mayor Boris Johnson to invest in retractable seats to avoid the stadium becoming a 'mish-mash'.  As a fan, I would not be keen on being separated from the action by an athletics track.

BoJo, who is an undeclared candidate for David Cameron's job, will be in the limelight again this week as he addresses the Conservative Party conference.   Although he is there in part because of his preceived success with the Olympics, including a widely viewed display of 'daddy dancing', one doubts whether the needs of Leyton Orient are at the forefront of his mind.

The installation of temporary seating over the track beyond the goallines would cost £35m.   This is in addition to the £95m to reduce capacity from 85,000 to 60,000, install internal toilets from fans who might have had a drink beforehand (although traditional watering holes will be some way away), plus corporate hospitality suites, a new roof and a roof extension.

That would bring the conversion cost, taking account of a contingency sum, to £150m, which would fall largely on the taxpayer, on top of the £431m construction cost.   However, if a use was not found for the stadium apart from athletics events, it would be something of a white elephant.   The construction work also boosts the economy as a whole because of the materials used and workers spending their wages.

It is believed that West Ham's offer is worth about £10m a year over a 99-year lease.  In principle this means that the investment would eventually be repaid twofold.   However, a lot depends on what inflation forecasts one makes, impossible over such a long period (or even a shorter one) and how one factors in opportunity cost (alternative uses for the money).

The LLDC could make a decision about the tenant(s) at its next meeting on 15 October, but this is thought to be unlikely.