An excellent BBC documentary tonight on the taxpayer funded new stadium for West Ham. Essentially, we have all had a taxpayer whip-round and given West Ham’s owners £272m so that they can grow the club’s fan base by another 20,000 . Newham council alone will be receiving 100,000 free tickets a year to be given out as they see fit. Because the annual rent on the stadium of c £2m includes the government paying all the lighting heating , security , stewarding, etc- it means that in effect West Ham are paying virtually nothing in annual running costs. Season tickets are being offered at £99.
Some Charlton supporters dismiss any concerns about this unfair competition on our doorstep but you would have to be bonkers not to think that it will affect our ability to recruit new younger supporters , a clear concern, when apparently , we already have a significantly older age profile than other ‘competitors’ and certainly borne out by all the people who sit near me. It will affect our revenues , make us a less attractive commercial proposition for potential owners .
Steve Clarke and Richard Hunt from the CAFC supporters trust made an excellent contribution to the programme and so did Barry Hearne in his capacity as Leyton Orient Chairman.
There was no official statement or view from our club.
Whilst you might say that the horse has bolted and it’s now too late to respond , its already built , they are already there , etc, the programme made the point that there are now 10 clubs under investigation for unfair State aid in Europe and that the EU were bound to investigate if an official organisation lodged a complaint.
The outcome of such an investigation for West Ham’s owners might result in the forced-repayment by the club of hundreds of millions of state aid.
It would be interesting to hear the official club view on this situation and whether there is any merit in lodging a formal complaint , possibly in conjunction with Leyton Orient.