Re-opening of Olympic Stadium for football still four years away
West Ham United named the "first-ranked bidder", although they may have to wait awhile
Work to convert the Olympic Stadium for its post-Games future is unlikely to begin for about another year despite West Ham United being named the "first-ranked bidder" today as the convoluted process took another baby step forward.
It means the stadium will not be ready to host matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup – it is on the shortlist – although the snail's pace at which the project is advancing could mean it hosts athletics meetings next summer before construction work begins. If the deal is done for West Ham to move in, it is likely to be 2016 before they physically can do so – which would be after the opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics.
The board of the London Legacy Development Corporation today selected West Ham's as the first choice from four bids on the table – they ruled out Leyton Orient's and a proposal to stage a Formula One race in and around the stadium, and will consider accommodating a business and football college there once the West Ham deal has been finalised.
Boris Johnson, who chairs the LLDC, remains wary of delivering a stadium built and converted with public funding to a Premier League football club without significant accompanying caveats. The London mayor supports the idea of top-flight football being placed at the core of the stadium's future but insists West Ham will have to offer further commercial guarantees before any deal can be completed.
Yesterday's move signals the start of detailed negotiations – both parties say there is no deadline set, although the LLDC hope that it will be settled by March next year. That would signal an autumn start for conversion works on the roof and the installation of retractable seating no more than 16.9 metres from the pitch on all sides. Conversion costs are estimated at £150m.
West Ham remain deeply committed to the move, as they have been since the original process begun – last year they were granted the lease ahead of Tottenham Hotspur only for the government to restart the bidding following legal challenges.
The club believe the two sides are close to agreement. But Johnson wants to ensure that if West Ham were awarded the 99-year lease and the club's owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, then sought to sell the club, there would be some sort of share in any profit for the taxpayer. West Ham maintain that the owners have no interest whatsoever in selling their 65 per cent stake in the club.
The LLDC also want further financial contributions from West Ham, whether through future commercial revenues or towards the conversion costs. Johnson claims that if no deal is reached with the club there is a "plan B" which would entail the stadium hosting concerts and other commercial and sporting events, in particular athletics. That, though, would in all likelihood result in the stadium being run at a loss and requiring on-going public subsidy.
Barry Hearn, chairman of Leyton Orient, is considering whether to mount a legal challenge. He claims the move will kill off his club.
March 2010 West Ham and Newham council announce they are working on a joint bid for the stadium.
Nov '10 Spurs and West Ham are named by Olympic Park Legacy Company as final bidders.
Feb '11 Hammers win bid.
Oct '11 Deal with Newham collapses after judicial review sparked by Spurs and Leyton Orient.
Today West Ham confirmed as preferred bidders.
Latest in Sport
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
David Moyes delighted after Rio Ferdinand agrees to stay at Manchester United with new one-year contract
Sergio Garcia / Tiger Woods 'fried chicken' racism row takes fresh twist after 'coloured athletes' comment
After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke
Manuel Pellegrini must deliver five trophies in five years at Manchester City says chief executive Ferran Soriano
Major refinancing sees Manchester United slash interest bill by £10m a year
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 'He was always smiling': Lee Rigby named as Woolwich victim
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.