West Ham embroiled in seating dispute with London Stadium owners
PUBLISHED: 10:51 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:12 14 December 2017
Thousands more fans could watch matches at the London Stadium if a dispute between West Ham and the ground’s owners is resolved, a City Hall committee has heard.
Gerry Murphy, the acting chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, told the London Assembly budget monitoring sub-committee meeting yesterday that there is a “review of the seating system” taking place, with court action set for next year.
Since West Ham moved into the stadium at the start of last season, it has been mainly operating with a 57,000 capacity due to licensing restrictions, paying £2.5 million a year for up to 25 games to be played there.
But the stadium does have 66,000 seats in it - and a statement released by the club in January this year expressed its “wish to increase to 60,000 [in the 2016/17 season] and 66,000 [in the 2017/18 season]”. But this has not happened.
Ms Murphy explained: “There is a dispute with West Ham about what the contract says in terms of capacity.
“West Ham have absolutely said that they want to increase the capacity to 60,000. And actually they want to further increase the capacity to 66,000.
“LLDC and E20 (the landlords) disagrees with their interpretation of the contract. We feel that actually if West Ham want to enjoy more seats then they should commensurately pay more.”
A club spokesman said: “West Ham United is seeking use of all seats in London Stadium to initially reach a capacity of 60,000, as was promised publicly to our supporters by all London Stadium stakeholders.
“The seats in question are not ‘additional’ or ‘extra’. These seats are in London Stadium already, have always been there, and have already been paid for under the terms of our concession agreement.
“Having sought a resolution of this matter for many months, West Ham United are seeking a legal declaration because we have almost 50,000 patient and loyal fans on our season ticket waiting list who are being denied the opportunity to support their team.”
Asked who would benefit from the revenue from any additional seating, Ms Murphy said: “West Ham’s argument is they would receive all of the extra revenue from the extra seats. We would contend we should get a share of that.”
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