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Retract or else, warn LLDC as war of words escalates

Filed: Monday, 10th September 2018
By: Staff Writer

The Chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation says that he has asked West Ham to retract a statement in which it was claimed that he was "misleading the public".

Peter Hendy - who chairs the unelected quango responsible for delivering an Olympic legacy - has written an open letter to London Assembly Chair Tony Arbour following a statement released by the club in which they criticised comments he made during a London Assembly meeting.

Hendy, speaking at least week's London assembly

A statement released to the media on behalf of West Ham United last week suggested that Hendy and his team were "deliberately misleading the public and, more importantly, taxpayers", adding that "to lay any blame for their [the LLDC's] financial struggles at our [WHUFC's] door is wrong and misleading the public".

However in what will be music to the ears of the two parties' legal teams Hendy has hit back at the club for their comments, which he called "extremely serious and damaging", whilst urging them to withdraw their words.

"I am writing to you following my appearance alongside LLDC Chief Executive Lyn Garner before the Greater London Authority Plenary on Thursday September 6th and specifically our comments on the London Stadium," wrote Hendy.

"We welcomed the opportunity to explain to Members details around the Stadium and issues that LLDC are tackling. However, following that appearance West Ham United released a public statement in which we were accused of misleading the public during our appearance.

"This is an extremely serious and damaging statement to make against public officials
appearing before elected Assembly Members and [I] will be asking West Ham to retract the
claim. In the meantime, I wanted to reassure the Assembly that we are working in a proper
and considered way.

"I will also be making this letter public because there was media coverage of the West Ham statement including reports that we 'lied'."

However Hendy was quite happy to pass on the blame for additional costings to West Ham supporters who, he said, had been responsible for the need to hire additional security in the latter half of last season.

"It was no secret before our appearance that West Ham have a good deal," he continued. "Indeed, the Moore Stephens report reported that the club pay £2.5 million a season with an entitlement to put on 25 games. The report stated it cost just under £200,000 for us to put on each game.

"Those figures on their own add up to a loss to us of more than £2 million a season.

"Since then costs have increased, not least because the behaviour of a small minority of West Ham fans at the end of last season means we now spend more on security. Each match so far this season costs an average of around £270,000 to stage.

"West Ham continue to pay the annual set amount which is indexed linked so now stands at
£2.675 million a season. In addition, we have secured extra payments from the club for
additional rights Ė an example of this is extra advertising space which they have sold on. It
means that West Ham pays us around £3 million a season."

Embed from Getty Images

And Hendy ended his open letter by insisting that he was not attempting to hold West Ham solely responsible for the stadium's heavy losses, which are expected to exceed £20million this calendar year.

"We are not 'laying the blame' at West Ham for the 'financial struggles' of the stadium and did not mislead the London Assembly or the public in our appearance," he insisted. "The
contract with West Ham is just one of the historic issues that face us.

"We are attempting to work with the club to give them the extras they want but that does come at a price. We must not forget this is the UKís best multi-use stadium. Athletics, football, baseball, rugby, sold out concerts are all hosted here bringing investment and revenue into London.

"This country is lucky to have such a fantastic stadium putting on world beating events. Our
job is to get real value for Londonís taxpayers. We wonít give away the benefits of the
London Stadium for nothing - be that to West Ham or anyone else."

You may read Hendy's letter in full here.

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