West Ham clinch Olympic Stadium deal as ministers dismiss Orient legal threat

 
Frank Dalleres
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WEST HAM are set to be confirmed as main tenants of the Olympic Stadium this morning, and sports minister Hugh Robertson has dismissed rivals Leyton Orient’s hopes of mounting a legal challenge to the move.

The club have finally clinched a deal with Mayor Boris Johnson’s London Legacy Development Corporation following weeks of fraught negotiations since they were named top bidder last year.

The Hammers are set to sign a 99-year lease allowing them to use the £429m stadium for all home matches. They are expected to move in for the 2016-17 football season.

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has applied for a judicial review of West Ham’s appointment, but Robertson said: “That is one for Boris [Johnson] but I am told that all the legal advice is that the review is likely to fail.”

The Premier League club have long been the clear favourites to be the stadium’s main users, but club chiefs including vice-chairman Karren Brady have been haggling with the LLDC over money, including how much they should pay towards the £160m cost of converting the stadium into one suitable for hosting football.

The stadium needs a new roof as well as the installation of retractable seating to cover the running track and corporate boxes.

West Ham had offered £2.5m annual rent plus £6.5m extra per year in sponsorship and catering income, but were thought to have increased their offer in order to break a deadlock in talks.

TIMELINE OF A SAGA

■ Mar 2010: West Ham and Newham launch joint bid to take over the stadium, with athletics to be retained

■ Oct 2010: Tottenham lodge rival bid but won’t retain track, prompting UK Athletics to back West Ham

■ Feb 2011: Olympic Park Legacy Company unanimously votes to accept West Ham bid

■ Apr 2011: Tottenham seek judicial review of Newham’s decision to loan West Ham £40m towards their move. Claim rejected in June but review granted on appeal in August

■ Oct 2011: OPLC abandons deal and restarts tender with stadium to remain state-owned but leased to tenants

■ Mar 2012: West Ham named among four bidders for new deal

■ Dec 2012: West Ham named top-ranked bidder by new Boris Johnson-led body London Legacy Development Corporation

■ Mar 2013: Haggling over conversion costs finally ends in agreement between West Ham and LLDC