Please help us fight again State Aid for WHU’s stadium

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader you may know that we have already run quite a long article about the way the new West Ham stadium is being financed with the club paying little towards the transformation of the ground into a football stadium, and the state financing the building costs, and the day to day running of the stadium.

It was interesting that most of the answers that came back to the Untold view that this is not how it should be, were answers that really had little to do with what seem to me to be the key issue.  People wrote in saying that we would shut up if it were Arsenal’s stadium, that if WHU didn’t take it over on these terms, it would lie there empty, that our figures were just plain wrong (even though we were using the same figures as those that the BBC used) and that it wasn’t a breach of EC rules anyway.

The fact is that I’ve been against state aid in terms of football stadia all the way through the history of Untold, and we’ve regularly carried updates on the situation in Spain where several clubs are under investigation for this sort of activity.

The problem we have however is that football clubs tend not to point the finger at each other very often, as they have to do business with each other, and a row with WHU now, could mean a failure to buy a player from there in the future.

So it is now down to the supporters, which is why an alliance of supporters’ trusts including the AST are promoting a petition on the Government website calling for an a public inquiry into the deal for West Ham United to become tenants at the Olympic Stadium.  

There are some very serious question to be asked of ministers, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales. At a time of massive cuts in central and local government benefits and services, plus a long pay squeeze on public employees why is central, regional and local government offering huge subsidies to the owners of West Ham United?

West Ham has only contributed £15m towards the £272m conversion costs of the Olympic Stadium, with the taxpayer footing the rest of the bill.

On top of the minimal conversion contribution, West Ham has been allowed to keep the sale proceeds of their current stadium, valued at £71m. Rental is £2.5m a year, halving should WHU be relegated. Taxpayers will cover the costs of stadium utilities, security, pitch maintenance, goalposts and corner flags – estimated to be worth £1.4m – £2.5m a year.

Our argument is that public money should be used responsibly, and in a way which does not distort the competitiveness of independent sports bodies and businesses.

And thus considering the cost to the taxpayer, and the effect of this taxpayer subsidy on competition between clubs, a full public inquiry into the deal is needed.

The petition has been a success in that we have already raised enough signatures to ask the government to make a response to the petition.  But it is still worth adding signatures.  Indeed if we hit 100,000 signatures we would have a chance of a debate in parliament.    

Given that Untold gets 1 million page views a month, this ought to be possible!

If you feel that this is a cause worth following, and you are resident in the UK please do click on this link to join the petition.


56 Replies to “Please help us fight again State Aid for WHU’s stadium”

  1. All very boring, between the BBC and Hearn this has now blown up out of proportion. Suggest you read all the information and not just the rubbish the two main antagonists spout. If you want to talk about waste of taxpayers mony just think what Spurs wanted to do with the stadium namely bring it down and build a football ground solely for them so anybody with common sense would realise that was not a particularly good option!

  2. It’s not west hams stadium. As you put it,it’s rented. I don’t pay for the upkeep of my council house so why should west ham pay for stadium upkeep. If orient and spurs hadn’t shouted their mouths off west ham would of been given the stadium,ok on the cheap but they’d of paid for the conversion costs.

  3. Factually wrong as were the BBC. Even in simple things BBC called Bobby Moore a Sir and you cant even get the words right in the headline of this article. If it did get to a Public Enquiry it would cost the tax payer millions of pounds and would take years to complete.

  4. Whilst some of this is wrong this is all down to the stadium not getting designed right in the first place and no matter who got use of it there would have been huge conversion costs unlike the man city stadium which was designed with football in mind

  5. You are so wrong How much do Arsenal receive from stadium naming rights selling food and drink plus income from other events at Emirates? The conversion costs are due entirely from the bad decision of Coe and others in building a stadium that couldn’t be converted West Ham shouldn’t pay anything towards those costs and are not The money you mention is for those elements for West Ham use only and rightly so It’s not if West Ham occupy as its a fact they will Get your facts straight and find out who else will pay such a high rent for 25 days use a year Do the maths

  6. Original plan: West Ham buy stadium, pay for conversion cost etc. agreed by all. Renegotiated so taxpayer could retain ownership, benefit from naming rights etc (and remember this is not part of the City of Manchester stadium deal) at instigation of LDDC. And that is where we are. There is no state subsidy… now, there might be to Spurs for their new stadium, but not here. This particular ship has sailed, so long ago, you can’t even see it with binoculars. Football was always the only sport that was going to support the Olympic stadium. No club apart from West Ham wanted it… Daniel Levy SAID he did, but everyone knows that was a bluff to embarrass Boris, extract public money and encourage (the idiot) Barrh Hearn (and sorry Barry, sorry Daniel, it might be inconvenient but West Ham is in Newham, Spurs and Leyton Orient aren’t)… no one else REALLY wanted it, but they are damn sure they didn’t want West Ham to have the stadium… and that’s where we are. Spurious objections… too late This particular horse has been well flogged and you’d have to say if we want to start digging into the ‘inter group pricing policy’ of certain clubs vs financial fair play you would see Chelski (with their international player loan circus) and Citeh with their ‘realistically priced’ Naming rights valuation in the accounts are both driving a coach and horse through any regulations. And as for Manure, well… Not that that would excuse any wrongdoing in East London but just because the BBC have aired a one sided, poorly researched hatchet job, does not mean everyone has to jump on the bandwagon. In the words of the song ‘It ain’t necessarily so… It ain’t necessarily so!’

  7. Over the term of the lease, the taxpayer will recoup the entire layout. Whatever the use would have been for the stadium there would have been large quantities needed to be spent on it to convert it into whatever it would have been. There were several other bids on the stadium, including one from Spurs which would have meant knocking down the stadium and part of the IOC’s remit for this stadium was that there should be a legacy for the Olympic games leaving the stadium to use for future athletic events. Spurs’ plan was to know it down completely and rebuild Crystal Palace! Not really a legacy is it!

    Put on top of the figures you have quoted, the catering funds that the stadium will make, the employment it will generate, the naming rights that West Ham don’t hold and many other events it will make money from and you will see that the stadium is going to the best possible bid. Leaving a legacy for the Olympic Games, a stadium that is able to be used by other event organisations such as concerts, athletics etc.

    One thing you have to remember is that West Ham will only use the stadium for home PL game and cup matches. That is just 19 days use for PL and dependant on where they get in the cup a few more games on top of that, should they be drawn at home! Would you pay more than 2.5 million a year for around 19 to 25 days a year use?

    As for West Ham keeping the money from their own site, well we have not. We have used 15 million of that in effect. There is a sell on clause should West Ham be sold the LLDC will receive a portion of any profits.

    Pointing to the fact that catering income will cease for West Ham, which is a big income on match days, I don’t think that West Ham are getting a particularly good deal.

    So after all the jealousy, did you make a noise about City acquiring the commonwealth games stadium!

    The alternative (and if you know a better one let us all know) is that the stadium will sit there doing nothing (the white elephant of East London) generating very little income, if any at all and the continued unemployment of people who would have had a chance of a job if West Ham were the tenants!

    I don’t think you have thought this through in any way shape or form. Taking the very limited information given on the BBC documentary which was nothing more than sensationalism, other wise, what would be the point of making a T.V. documentary about it in the first place.

    In all honesty, it might be a good thing for this info to come out to the public to stop everyone moaning about it and so that all can see that there was no better bid available that would have left a legacy to the great London Olympic Games.

    I fear however, you are wasting a great deal of time and effort over nothing and I’m sure you have better things to do than trying to glorify your own site which, in the end, as always when this sort of thing happens will probably only make the site look a bit silly.

  8. Iron man, if nothing is wrong you should support an investigation so that is clear for all times

  9. As a West Ham fan, I have been informed by West Ham of everything that is going on, as it happens. It has been open and available information. This campaign and the recent TV program are trying to make out this is all secretly been done.
    The stadium does not belong to West Ham and has already been used for quite a few major events that need to be organised separate to West Ham. That is why it is quite unique and is different to most stadium situations.
    Football fans are worried this is a unfair advantage to West Ham. However, there are plenty of unfair advantages many teams have already e.g. Foreign backers with endless money or strong managerial influencing.
    I feel that the real anger should be directed about those original decisions made by the original Olympic development committee, for which West Ham are now solving and ‘benefitting’ from. This is not exactly what West Ham fans want shape/size etc therefore there is some compromise given.
    Not West Ham’s fault.

  10. West Ham will make use of the stadium between 20 and 30 times per year. The other 330ish days, it does not belong to them and will generate income for others, not West Ham. So why should they pay any more than market rates for that kind of arrangement.

    When you rent a hotel room for 2 weeks of the year, should you also fund the construction of the hotel? No.

    Frankly, this smacks of desperation from Arsenal and their supporters and is highly embarrassing for what was once an honourable club.

    A real shame.

  11. I can understand the clamour for knowledge regarding the use of public knowledge, but frankly most of the people asking for some sort of debate are hypocrites.
    So many things government at all levels constitute a waste of public money but the majority of those asking for a public inquiry here will not have given anywhere near as much thought to those as they are for this. WHY???? Well mainly because this clamour for some sort of debate is simply out of either jealousy or a despite need to protect the status quo. This kind of witch hunt didn’t occur when Man City got the stadium in Manchester, and yet the deal they struck was way better than anything West Ham may have. So that tells you that this smacks of people at higher levels in the clubs complaining are getting involved tome degree. Quite why any Arsenal fan is complaining is frankly embarrassing. Firstly you are obviously worried West Ham will get to be a strong force, secondly because you all bought the line that Arsenal couldn’t spend on players because of the cost of your new stadium. has been shown to be a red herring, always been about your manager not wanting to spend. Until everyone complains this loud about all of the government failings regarding their spending and use of public monies, I suggest you shut up.

  12. Given some of the nonsense the state subsides/funds, I consider West Ham getting a squeeze the least of it. Can we concentrate on matters Arsenal please gents?

  13. Sadly the BBC did not portray the facts and simply generated jealousy amongst labour supporting football fans across England.

  14. Ironman – ‘it ain’t necessarily so’ is ‘blowing bubbles’ at honesty! There is collusion to defraud the taxpayer of millions while ensuring certain entities are allowed to make millions.

    Barry Hearn has not even started to lay into the crude manipulation of this public asset.

  15. Unfortunately whilst I have British Subject status; I am not however a British citizen in order to take part in this petition.

    Its a bold move to take on CORRUPT politicians – who have equally corrupt, money hungry ‘businessman’ buddies and through their cleaver plots extort the normal tax payer!!

    Good Luck with it.

  16. Sorry Tony but I cannot agree with Untold being used as a weapon against the West Ham proposal, in this way.
    Time and time again you emphasise your site is dedicated to supporting (Arsenal) Club, players and manager.
    The intention to use public funds to assist a football club may well be reprehensible but in my respectful view you are using the incorrect channel in order to encourage opposition.

  17. The facts are West ham are renting the stadium for a certain amount of days a year if you rented a house would you expect to pay if the owners wanted to add a conservatory?

  18. This all smacks of jealousy. West ham seem to have negotiated an incredible deal that could propel them into the top level of PL football and they have done it at very low cost. That is smart, isn’t it?
    Why is an Arsenal site so involved in trying to bring them down?

    If Arsenal had done this I hazard a guess that you would have been going on about how much of a genius Wenger is.

    There is enough to talk about with Arsenal without having to go on about West Ham.

  19. Jayram – its because it is our(taxpayers) money that is being abused to subsidize a privately owned sporting club without our permission. We need to ensure that West Ham pay their way fairly & not sponge off of our taxes.

  20. This is all just nonsense perpetuated by a bored media in a dull summer. The only people who can apply for a review under law are the affected commercial entities – the other clubs in London who may be affected by the deal. After the original ‘sale’ deal was revoked to keep the stadium in public ownership, the competition process o take the principal lease was heavily reviewed by all involved to ensure that it didn’t breach European State Aid regulations. Clearly Tottenham and Orient didn’t dispute the process, since they took part in it!

    Thus West Ham, led by Karren Brady as the chief negotiator, ended up paying £1,000 a minute when they use the stadium, sacrificed 90% of the catering sales and 100% of the naming rights. For that, they got what looks like a great deal on the rental, if you compare it with the cost of building a new stadium. Please don’t compare apples with bananas by mentioning Manchester City, MK Dons or Arsenal; each of those deals is entirely separate and unrelated.

    The only reason that no club has applied for an investigation is that after taking legal advice, they’ve been advised that there’s no case to answer. Fans’ groups are a different matter, since they’re calling for a publicly-funded enquiry into the redevelopment cost – a different matter entirely; they’re not making an application to the EU for a state aid investigation (which they can’t as they’re not ‘affected commercial entities’).

    The stadium doesn’t belong to West Ham, they’re just the anchor tenant and their bid was the best the LLDC could get. It might not seem brilliant for the asset owner, but it was a fair process to take on a facility that needed significant rebuilding to make it fit for purpose. The existing roof was found to be faulty and had to be replaced; the stadium had no catering or corporate boxes and no team wanted to use it if the running track was in place year-round. Why should a tenant pay for making it fit for purpose?

    The Rugby World Cup preparation game held there this weekend between Samoa and the Barbarians raised thousands of social media and reported press complaints about the sprinklers going off during the game, long ticket queues, no beer, poor Wi-Fi (how very middle class!) and long sightlines to the action from some seats. No wonder it needs money spending to make it usable again!

    My closing advice is to just come along to your away game at the OS next year and enjoy yourselves at a stadium you still own. Sorry Charlton, that probably doesn’t include you – but we did lend you our ground when yours was being redeveloped, so we’ve done our bit for you.

  21. Hi all, I signed late this afternoon and there were only 23400 that had signed up. There was a note that they needed at least 100k for them to consider, note that they have said “CONSIDER” launching an investigation. Remember they are not obliged to launch the investigation. If they have something to hide, they will come up with a ridiculous reason.

  22. @Menace.

    There are literally thousands of other examples where our tax money gets wasted and used on less than transparent areas by our government. I don’t believe the situation with West Ham and other clubs fans whining for a petition has anything to with using our tax money more honestly. It has everything to do with stopping West Ham getting better and becoming more of a threat.

  23. Jayram, I don’t know if you live in the UK but won’t you be happy if part of your salary is siphoned off to fund someone’s vanity without you knowing it or your permission. Please stop taking drugs.

  24. @Gouresh
    August 31, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    I totally understand Jayramfootball – BECAUSE HE IS from another planet!!

  25. Could it be better if the owners of the London Olympics Stadium put the Stadium on auction for the highest bidder to have it and rent it out to a prospective user? Ofcourse there will be conditions attach for both the Stadium buyer and the renter. And if a prospective user have the money to buy the Stadium and meet the stipulated conditions for buying and usage, so be it. They should have the stadium as the owners. I think the current Stadium owners want to be making money through rent collections, but at a heavy expense of public money. I think it won’t be fair to be using the tax payers money to subsidize the services of a private football club. Let the owners of the Stadium forget about renting out the Stadium which has now caused problems that they’ve not thought of from the beginning. Now to Arsenal. Reports have had it that my right wing target for the Boss has been slammed a £15m buyout tag. And Slaven Bilic is reported to have said he is pulling out of the bidding due a richer club trying to out bid him. Who is that richer club? Arsenal? I hope they are the one. This is the only necessary 1 more transfer I want the Boss to do in addition to Cech, before the window closes tomorrow evening. I think the Boss can have him for £8m, if West Ham will not match that price. If they do, let the Boss up his bidding to £8.5m. The guy will be top quality for us. That’s the reason I want the Boss to have him.

  26. You are missing the point West Ham will not own the Stadium so why should they pay for it to be converted into a multi purpose venue that they will only be allowed to use 9 months of the year. It would be like you renting a house and being told you have to pay for the the building to be built.

  27. While I agree with the general point of this article, i think iron man makes some excellent points too. The chavs and Man City have got away with murder..

    It is obscene how big business and finance companies caused the economic crisis the Tories continue to use as the excuse to demonise the poor slash benefits and continually cutting essential public services that cause even more strife for the most vulnerable.

    I’m sure the Hammers owners greased a few palms, but good luck proving it.

  28. @Gouresh , APO

    Yes I live in the Uk and my point was a simple one to understand. Tax money is misused in many areas and yet I fail to see football fans up in arms. The risk of West Ham becoming more of a power in football seems to be the motivating factor. Well, not seems to be. It is.

  29. Actually I don’t see West Ham as “a power in football” just because they beat us once in a blue moon…the fact remains that they are cheating the tax payer.

  30. Jayram – i don’t want to pay for Arsenals opposition with my tax. Which part of supporting only one team do you not understand? I know you don’t understand supporting our Manager but please don’t be so naive as to think that an almost permanent deal giving a football club fully funded premises (with my money) is acceptable.

  31. @Menace
    August 31, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Do you really think you will get a sensible answer??

  32. Actually apo Armani, “once in a blue moon”… er no!! West Ham have beaten you 3 times on your pitch in the last 10 years. Only one other premier league team has done that

  33. Jayram,
    we are not gunning for WH per say and if they get a sugar daddy, good on them or if they get rich by a proper business model, then fair play to them. why should they get the benefit? what wrong did the surrounding clubs do where they cannot benefit, if ground sharing etc is possible? the stadium was built on tax payers money, so surly clubs like barnet, spurs, WH and others around that area should get a fair share? as I have said before, if its a clean deal, where they pay proper rates and the tax payer is not shafted then fine, but lets see the details. I thought that under the freedom of information act, this should be possible. if both parties claim that the deal was/is clean, then why worry.

  34. Gouresh
    It’s fairly obvious that 2.5million per season is a return on the investment that without WH would have been nothing. Barnet, Orient, Charlton would not have paid anywhere near that or indeed fill it. Spurs wanted to knock it down… No athletics, no other benefit to the UK. At least this option prevents a white elephant.

  35. I certainly do not want my tax contributions providing a free stadium for WHU. Incidentally, do WHU owners also own a porno TV station? (or am I confusing them with others?) Are they millionaires?

    It is almost predictable that those who do not support Arsenal will always try to find an excuse to belittle any idea or positive move which would directly or indirectly support Arsenal or as in this case draw attention to the misuse of public funds, to the benefit of a competitor, at a time of supposed austerity.

  36. Arsene Knows nothing……

    The loser want sign anyone apart from another loser like Ozil.

    We are not going to win any silverware this season, which will prove to be arsene’s last, i hope.

  37. Why are you not publishing any of my comments? Is it because you don’t want people to see a reasonable informed argument?

  38. Watch out Tony, the aliens are coming to Untold and they apparently don’t like Arsene Wenger, Mesut Özil, have missed 2 years of trophies, and don’t know how to read (an article)!

    Best of luck in regards to the petition, hope you it is able to obtain enough signatures!

  39. A headline for Tony and any other historians:

    Arsenal’s Election to the Football League – Mythbusted

    @apo Armani

    Tony is involved in the Arsenal History Society (as I understand things).

    I have no idea if this article is bringing in new data or not.

    But, the premise of this article is that newspaper archives are becoming available for people to search. What is happening with not quite new archives? For me, they seem to be disappearing.

    The WWW/Internet has been around a while, but it isn’t unusual to go looking for articles 7, 10, 15, 25 years old, and find they are not available.

    It is good that older sources (such as digitized scans run through character resolution to make searchable articles) are becoming available. But we do not want to lose what was digital to being with. It is entirely possible that jerks like Piers Morgan and Stewart Robson (and all the other muppets in football) might want to be forgotten at some point, but that should not happen. Too much of what they have done has shaped “football society”.

    We need to be able to go to Google (or what ever search engine) in 20 years time and be able to find the commentary from The Guardian on specific games, because the commentary from Sports Mole doesn’t adequately describe the issuance of a yellow card in a specific game in 2009. This data describes public events which happened, but might be open to interpretation. Being able to see ALL the interpretations is useful.

    Aliens? Sorry, I don’t know what teams play football in the vicinity of Proxima Centuri. Or any other star in our immediate neighbourhood. And I have no idea why someone who was not born within the Sol system, would have a problem with a particular manager on the planet Earth within the Sol system who was born in the country France in the continent Europe working for a club called Arsenal in the city called London, if the country called England, also within the continent Europe.

  40. we choose what we want to believe,
    and then we fight for it, to the very last drop of our soul…

  41. Arsenal History is a web site set up by two of the authors who co-authored with me the book “Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed history”. Andy and Mark are excellent historians and I have always been sorry that they decided to do their groundbreaking work elsewhere rather than within the AISA Arsenal History Society where we could all work together. But I can most certainly say that if they publish something on the history of Arsenal then it is true.

    Sometimes we might argue about the exact meaning of words – “the league was expanded to 15 clubs”, that is a true statement of what happened. “The league was expanded to 16 clubs” – that is the true statement of what happened before one club dropped out and there was no time to replace it. Both statements are ultimately true, but you need the full explanation as Andy and Mark provide it to see the full situation.

  42. The problem with the Olympic Stadium originates with Lord Seb Coe making it clear that the stadium was for athletics only after the Games in 2012 and not football. The Etihad Stadium, as it is now, was always designed with football in mind after the Commonwealth Games.
    The Olympic Stadium had permanent seating for 25,000; the rest was pre-fabricated and was to be dismantled and taken to athletics stadia throughout the UK, and the remaining 25,000 seat stadium was for athletics. A noble but short-sighted view, especially for business purposes.
    The original plans were ill thought out and the only thing left to do was either let the stadium go to Leyton Orient or West Ham United. In both cases conversion was needed.
    The problem and the principle is not the cost and who paid for the conversion work to be done, in my opinion, but whether the preferred tenants, West Ham United, are making a reasonable contribution to the costs of conversion. And clearly, they are not.

  43. Krispy I am sorry you feel embarrassed. Still, console yourself with the fact that you don’t have to read the 30 odd emails containing abuse and threats that I had to wade through. tony.

  44. Unfortunately Steve, you don’t read Untold. Otherwise you would have come across our articles about the funding of the City of Manchester stadium. always dangerous to claim to know what is inside someone’s head.

  45. Jimmy, we were late clearing a lot of comments because all three moderators were either out of the country or doing other things yesterday, and believe me it took ages to wade through the abusive comments, deal with the death threats etc. All done now.

  46. The comment from
    August 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm
    is not me (the usual) Mick but a different Mick.

  47. The Great WHU Stadium Mystery seems to have hit nerves other beers cannot reach.

    Well done Tony for bringing the moot point to the fore.

    In doing the right thing and worrying about the consequences later is what decent people do.

    A quick note for Aliens…..Sir/Madam,, I hope you revert to being a whole hearted supporter (again?) after 6pm today.


  48. I must say that I have no anti West Ham feelings. In fact I have enjoyed some of the best football for its time at the Bolyn ground. The outstanding match being West Ham v Celtic in the age when there were some great players there. The game was a friendly & ended 3-3. Good memories of a great club. Sadly I have no affinity for the current owners.

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