Hammers set to be preferred bidder

The Olympic Stadium has not been used since the closing ceremony of the Paralympics

The Olympic Stadium has not been used since the closing ceremony of the Paralympics

First published in National Sport News © by

West Ham are expected to be named preferred bidders for the Olympic Stadium today even though a final agreement over costs may not be settled.

Talks on securing an agreement deal that would see the Hammers named as the preferred bidders were expected to continue right until the start of today's meeting of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) board.

Senior sources on the board have told the Press Association they remain very hopeful that an agreement will be reached despite a funding gap of around £20million.

Discussions have been taking place between the Government, the London mayor's office, LLDC chiefs and the club to try to come up with an agreeable plan. Preferred bidder status will not involve the signing of any contracts but will put West Ham in the driving seat to securing a new home under a 99-year lease.

The funding gap for converting the stadium into a football ground with retractable seating over the running track has been narrowed from £40million to around £20million after West Ham and Newham Council agreed to put in more money.

There have been efforts to secure the final outstanding cash with approaches to the Treasury and the London mayor's office. Even so, the total cost will be at least £160million and one potential sticking point is who would underwrite any possible increases in construction costs.

The Hammers are hoping to be the new anchor tenant for the Olympic Stadium, which has cost £486million and has been vacant since hosting the Paralympics closing ceremony. The Premier League club are competing against League One side Leyton Orient, a football business college and a group keen to bring Formula One racing to the Olympic Park.

West Ham's latest offer is believed to be a £15m upfront contribution, a £5million improvement on the original offer, as well as rent of £2.5m a year and £6m-a-year income for the LLDC from revenue from stadium naming rights and catering.

The LLDC confirmed this month that the stadium will not re-open until 2015 at the earliest and possibly the summer of 2016 - which would be two years later than expected.

The delay was branded "a farce" by UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner - his organisation had planned events such as Diamond League meetings, trials and school competitions from 2014 and is hosting the 2017 world championships.

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