By Tony Attwood
My company rents an office block and behind it, a warehouse block. In each case we pay the landlords a fixed rent, and every three years the landlords have the right to put the rent up. They do this in accordance with the rents that are being charged elsewhere in the area. If rents generally go up by 5%, we have to pay 5% more. We can go to appeal, but the chances of winning are slight.
What our landlords can’t do is get hold of a copy of our accounts and then say, “Ah, I see you have been making a good profit for the last two years, so we want more money for the rent.” Likewise we can’t say, “because of the action of the criminal banking community who have lost billions of pounds, and now are expecting us to pay for their disasters in higher charges, and with fewer customers left, we are losing money, so we will pay you less.”
And of course that’s not just my company – it is most companies. Quite possibly all companies in the UK, where the law lays down what landlords can and can’t do, both for businesses and for private individuals at home (although the laws are different for each group).
The club previously known as West Ham however don’t believe in the norm, and they have managed to get themselves a deal in which not only are they paying a fraction of what one might expect in rent, if they fail on the pitch, their rent will go down. It is quite possibly a unique arrangement in terms of property rental.
Indeed we can now see exactly why the LLDC has fought so hard to keep the contract secret. The Freedom of Information campaign which was supported by a coalition of 14 Supporters Trusts is the sort of thing that is supposed to make it easier for us ordinary folk to get information. The LLDC used all its access to public money to fight the case.
And yes, that is right. Public money – the money that taxpayers like myself give to the government – has been used to fight a request for information from… taxpayers like myself who give money to the government.
If State Aid Utd, playing at the Taxpayers Stadium, end up in the bottom half of the league, their rent goes down. If they don’t make it into Europe, and/or do poorly in the domestic cups so they play six or fewer European, FA Cup, and League Cup games their rent goes down.
Then, if that were not insulting enough to us tax payers who had to pay for the stadium, if State Aid Utd really screw up and go down to the Championship, their rent is cut in half! Talk about a reward for failure.
State Aid Utd have played outside of the first division / Premier League in around 48 seasons in which they have been competing – mostly in division 2 but sometimes in the Southern League and sometimes in the London League (excluding war time), the most recent was in 2011/12 when they came third in the Championship.
So major savings are quite possible if the club does exist in the future in keeping with its history.
Of course State Aid and their cronies in the LLDC are reporting this back to front – that the club has to pay more for success, and one can see it this way if one wishes, but the reality of linking a commercial rent to the success or failure of a business is still unprecedented. If only we could see it as a precedent and get the rental tribunals to apply it to our commercial property – that would really edge us towards an even playing field.
The stadium is costing those of us who live and work in the UK over £700m of which State Aid Utd will be paying around 2.5%. And if that ain’t insulting enough State Aid will get a fair old chunk of the stadium naming rights. Although the club is unlikely to get anything like the £30m a year Arsenal get there is still more and more money to be made there. Plus the sizeable chunk of catering money that they receive.
The argument put in favour of this is that if State Aid had not taken over the stadium then it would have lain empty, and therefore this is a justification for this taking of state aid in running a club. But had the stadium stayed empty, the taxpayer (me in this case) would have been a lot better off because most of the £700m redevelopment cost would not have been said. The stadium could have stayed empty as a symbol of the insanity of building mega structures for two weeks of sporting activity.
The Olympics were sold to the gullible British public as a way of ensuring in some magical way that Britain became a healthier society – but there has been absolutely no sign of this. As it is, figures show that one in four British adults is obese, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Where such issues are discussed the UK is now generally described as the “fat man of Europe”.
The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, and rather than events like the building of the mega structure now given to the club formally known as West Ham helping reduce obesity, obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be obese by 2050. According to the NHS website “Britain has become an “obese society where being overweight is “normal”. It is a trend three decades in the making which, according to experts, will take several more to reverse.
The full report released today on the donation by state of the stadium to West Ham (now renamed) is over 200 pages long, and there is thought that there is a lot more in the detail that needs to be publicised. We may not have heard the last of this.
- The question of evidence, Arsenal’s injury crisis and why Leicester City’s finances are a suitable case for investigation
- Exclusive: The Official Arsenal Transfer Rumour List
- Come and meet ex-Arsenal player and Arsenal scout Danny Karbassiyoon on 25 April
- The task facing the next manager: tactics, referees and candidates review
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page