West Ham would consider purchasing the London Stadium under the right
circumstances, according to vice-chairman Karren Brady.
Brady was appearing before the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee to discuss the financial issues that have impacted West Ham’s new home since they relocated there from Upton Park two years ago.
A report established that the stadium was losing around £20m a year while the Hammers have had various disagreements with their landlords ranging from capacity and stewarding to the sale of draught beer.
One option to end the saga could be West Ham buying the former Olympic Stadium outright, which Brady admitted is a possibility that has not yet been discussed by the club’s board members.
Yet Brady believes the specific cost of retractable seating to cater for an athletics running track muddies the waters.
“I think the London Stadium craves direction. I think it should be a jewel in the crown for London, it should be hosting events 365 days a year,” said Brady.
“It really should have the commercial expertise it deserves, it should have the financial controls it so readily needs, it does need investment.
“I don’t think it’s anywhere near to realising its full potential and that, for me, is incredibly frustrating.
“(Buying the stadium is) certainly something we would look at. I think if it was to become a dedicated football stadium, with pop concerts and maybe the occasional rugby match that could be a really seriously good proposition.
“The problem for this stadium is the cost of the seat moves for athletics. That is what drains the proposition of all of its revenue.”
Brady says West Ham have reached an agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation, which controls the stadium, over the pitch surround.
The compromise will see the colour of the carpet surrounding the pitch change to “predominantly claret”, while they intend to name “the East Stand after one of our famous former players”.
Brady also revealed there had been a thaw in relations between the club and the LLDC, which she ascribed to the appointment of chief executive Lyn Garner.
“It’s been a difficult couple of years since we moved into the stadium,” Brady said.
“The relationship before we moved in was very good, the relationship has recently improved but the interim two years have been very difficult because of a lack of communication.
“It’s been greatly improved by Lyn Garner’s recent appointment, she’s taken a much more pragmatic interest in the stadium.”
Brady feels the stadium’s losses could have been mitigated by allowing West Ham the opportunity to explore the possibility of naming rights.
She added: “It’s very important to understand that the Premier League generates £1.5bn of commercial revenue in sponsorship every year.
“The amount of expertise that we could give to (landlords) E20 to realise the potential in the naming rights, for example, which is a big part of missing revenue for them, has been disregarded.
“A naming rights sponsor is not interested on the outside of a building, they’re interested in the massive global audience the Premier League club generates.
“The Premier League generates enormous amounts of sponsorship revenue and this is a wonderful stadium. There are lots of great stadia in this country but there isn’t one as iconic as the ex-Olympic Stadium.
“I would have thought it would be relatively easy to sell.”
(c) Sky News 2018: Karren Brady says West Ham would consider buying London Stadium