West Ham United’s move to the London Stadium has raised eyebrows from the very beginning. The original deal was the subject of lawsuits and illegal shenanigans, with Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient both crying foul over the deal. After another round of talks, West Ham got an agreement to move into the stadium that was built for the 2012 London Olympics, almost four years after the Olympics had come and gone.
While Hammer fans have had a very mixed reaction to the new Stadium, with fans complaining about overzealous stewarding, long queues and poor food selection at half time, the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been very concerned with the original conversion costs estimates being blown out of the water. The costs associated with the conversion from an athletics stadium to a football ground have risen to £323 million, over £50 million over the original estimates. Now, the Mayor of London has hired the accounting firm Moore Stephens to look into what has caused the cost overruns, after announcing that he was ordering an inquiry last November.
Mayor Khan has been critical of the deal, and finally took action after reports surfaced that the “retractable” seats would take over two weeks to dismantle and another two weeks to put back up, with a cost of £8 million, rather than five days and £300,000 as was first estimated. West Ham’s sparkling deal, £3 million rent and and one-time fee of £15 million towards conversion costs, makes for an easy target for politicians, but the cost overruns are concerning.
At the end of the day, it appears that the blame for the problems with cost overruns will not go to West Ham board or even the club itself, but with the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Conservative MP Damian Collins told the BBC that “The big concern is does it look like, ultimately, the mayor of London was determined to get Premier League football into the Olympic Stadium at almost any cost? Because that’s what it looks like now.”