Fan coalition: LLDC is “Running scared of the taxpayer”

Fan coalition says LDDC is “Running scared of the taxpayer” after Olympic Stadium owners lodge contract appeal

The coalition of 14 supporters’ trusts & groups demanding the publication and revision of the full commercial terms of the contract between West Ham United and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) today accused the LLDC of “Running scared of the taxpayer”, after the publicly owned corporation decided to appeal against the judgement of the Information Commissioner, which had ordered publication.

The coalition, also backed by a number of GLA members, former Government ministers, MPs and others, has been seeking the contract’s full publication for the following reasons:

That the Olympic Stadium is a publicly owned asset and like the deal between Manchester City FC and Manchester City Council needs to be open to public scrutiny.

That the substantial speculation about the terms suggest strongly that the deal is highly favourable to West Ham United, and amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of a privately owned football club.

That such a deal, should it be shown to be as generous as believed, harms ‘competitive balance’: competition between all clubs within London, and also across the country.

A spokesperson said, “We have always respected West Ham United’s absolute right as a privately owned business to negotiate the most favourable commercial terms. However it is quite another matter for the LLDC, as a publicly owned corporation, answerable to the GLA, Government and ultimately responsible to the taxpayer, and charged with the oversight of public assets, to seek to block the publication of information about the use of those assets. The public have the right to know. Fans have a right to know. The LLDC is running scared of the taxpayer.”

The Information Commissioner, established under Freedom of Information Law, had ordered full publication of the commercial terms of the agreement within 35 days from the original decision notice date of September 3rd.

The LLDC had until 1st October to appeal against the decision, and the Coalition learnt that this appeal was finally lodged late today.

A spokesman added:

“This campaign represents the views of thousands of people – taxpayers and fans – across the country. It was established because of grave concerns about the effect on other clubs of a favourable deal for what is a privately owned football club. The campaign has also been backed by other civil society organisations, politicians and individuals equally concerned that publicly-owned assets be used responsibly.”

“The LLDC seems to have forgotten that as a publicly owned corporation it is answerable to the GLA, to Parliament, and to us all as taxpayers.”

“As the Mayor of London and ultimately responsible for the LLDC, Boris Johnson has claimed that he is ‘relaxed’ with the release of the terms. If that’s the case, he needs to exercise his authority and order LLDC Chief Executive David Goldstone to withdraw their appeal forthwith. To not do so and continue down this path will only make it look like they’ve got something to hide”

The coalition is also confident of winning any Tribunal hearing. “The Information Commissioner applies a three stage test to determine whether a request for information should be denied. The LLDC, represented by its battery of expensive lawyers paid for by the taxpayer, failed at Stage 2. We have a range of arguments ready for a tribunal, and we will exercise our right to an oral hearing, and for public access to the hearing. Eventually we will establish the full facts of the case. This cover-up will not continue indefinitely.”


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Editors notes:

Faced with a refusal by the LLDC to explain how public money was being spent on the Olympic Stadium deal between West Ham United and the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Olympic Stadium Coalition launched a petition calling for a public inquiry to expose the truth. This was backed by Chris Bryant MP, then Shadow Secretary of State and David Lammy, former Culture minister. The petition gained 25,000 signatures within days:

We believe public money should be used responsibly, fairly, and in a way which does not distort the competitiveness of independent sports bodies and businesses… Considering the cost to the taxpayer, and the effect of this taxpayer subsidy on competition between clubs, a full public inquiry into the deal is -needed.

Football supporter groups, representing tens of thousands of football fans, as part of the coalition are:
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust
Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust
The Blue Union (Everton)
Canaries Trust (Norwich City)
Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust
Crystal Palace Supporters’ Trust
The Dons Trust (AFC Wimbledon)
The Foxes Trust (Leicester City)
Fulham Supporters’ Trust
Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust
Manchester United Supporters’ Trust
QPR1st Supporters’ Trust
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust