LONDON: Decisions taken by Boris Johnson as the mayor of London to convert the Olympic Stadium for West Ham United’s use cost almost £300m of public money and have saddled the stadium operator with annual losses of about £20m, a highly critical review has found.
The review, by the accountants Moore Stephens for Johnson’s successor, Sadiq Khan, concluded that the process “went awry” when Johnson ran a new bidding process in 2011 and all the financial risk and costs were taken on by the public sector. West Ham, a Premier League football club with its own Boleyn Ground to sell, won the bid to occupy the converted 60,000-seat stadium, but the £323m cost of conversion – a £133m overrun of the original £190m estimate – was almost entirely paid with public money.
The rent agreed for West Ham, £2.5m per year, does not approach covering the costs of operating the stadium, with which the new deal burdened the public sector. The current publicly owned operator, E20, is losing £10-£20m a year, the report stated – including losing £2.25m hosting West Ham to play football, which costs £4.75m a season.