West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has defended the club’s forthcoming move to the Olympic Stadium, claiming the arena would have been demolished had they opted to remain at Upton Park.
The club – who will rent the stadium having initially planned to buy it – have had to fend off criticisms of their switch to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, including claims they would have use of the ground rent-free, with taxpayers left to foot the bill.
“Anyone could have bought this,” she told the Daily Mail. “Leyton Orient, the Qataris, anyone. But nobody saw it, nobody saw the potential here.
“So roll back that movie without West Ham. Taxpayers’ money would have poured into a big hole, been concreted over and never seen again.
“This is going to be an asset, a national asset. We shouldn’t have to keep justifying ourselves.
“Football is on the up right now so this gets called the deal of the century. But West Ham aren’t getting rich because of the stadium. West Ham were getting rich anyway.
“The television money comes to us whether we’re in the worst ground or the best, the brand value is building because of the success of the football club.
“Sometimes I feel like we took over a house that nobody wanted, did it up and made a fortune. Is that lucky? Is that the deal of the century or did you have a bit of foresight and make it work?
“Simply, without West Ham, this place would have been demolished and the Park would be done. If this is going to get the community usage, it needs a spark, a lot of events, and that’s why a football tenant is the most important because it is our supporters who will fill it and bring the income that pays for it to be maintained.
“We’re here for 99 years, not one season – and if you took our financial commitment over that time, you could build two Olympic Stadiums for the money.”