But with the greatest respect, West Ham aren’t my football club. So why am paying to give them a brand new football stadium? OK, £25 million may not even add up to the GDP of Cyprus in this crazy world. But that’s still a fair chunk of change. And what are we getting for it? Some people are arguing that this is an important part of securing the fabled “Olympic Legacy”. But is this really what the late Baron de Coubertin had in mind? Half a dozen long balls aimed at Andy Carroll, and some lusty renditions of ”Oh Christian Dailly, You are the love of my life, Oh Christian Dailly, I’ll let you s**g my wife”.
Samizdata quote of the day has already been taken but I couldn’t not share this one.
There is more:
Or, if the crude economics are too unpalatable, look at the whole thing through a footballing prism. If I was Peter Hill-Wood I’d be spitting blood. A club like Arsenal risks its entire future on moving to a state-of-the-art new stadium, pays the price on the pitch, and then watches as one of its local rivals walks into England’s second stadium for the princely cost of £15 million, plus £2 million rent a year.
The state has played an indirect role in the footballing world – such as policing, although the cost of policing grounds is shared by the clubs – and football has, mostly, been out of the state’s hands. The only time that its regulatory influence really tightened was after the various disasters, such as Heysel and Hillsborough, in which large numbers of fans were killed and regulations were changed to make grounds all-seater.
One commentator on the Hodges posting says this, though: ….” it is worth pointing out that West Ham will be paying £2m per year rent on the 99 year lease (not sure if that is inflation linked) and that there is a considerable cost in maintaining an empty stadium”.
Well quite. West Ham is going to have to pay a fair amount to use this ground, so it is not getting the site for free, which at times is the impression gained by the original article. Even so, given that compulsory purchase laws were used originally to clear the Olympic site – and some businesses never recovered – it is worth pointing out that one beneficiary is a privately owned football club which already has a ground of its own. It amounts to a transfer of valuable land and resources to a group of businessmen.