Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has accused Boris Johnson, his predecessor, of “panicking” because of the London Stadium transformation, and has taken control of the said project – the home ground of West Ham United – “to put it on a more secure financial footing.”
On Friday, Khan published an independent review regarding the mismanagement of the London Stadium by the previous mayor.
Newham Council has “retired” from the council’s co-ownership of the former Olympic stadium, and said that it accepts that its original £40m investment will not be repaid.
Khan said that the review unveils “a catalogue of errors that led to transformation costs soaring and a bungled decision that has left the taxpayer to foot an annual loss of around £20m.”
According to the office of the mayor, the examination by forensic accountants Moore Stephens that were commissioned by the London Mayor in March 2017, “reveals for the first time how decisions made by Boris Johnson led to the taxpayer shouldering the cost and financial risk – rather than West Ham United – for the transformation of the London Stadium following the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The mayor’s office said that the review also reveals the decisions to transform the said stadium and to accept the terms of the second bid of West Ham as anchor tenants were made based on inaccurate financial estimates and a failure to fully investigate or understand the commercial risks to taxpayers.
Khan stated: “I ordered the review into the finances of the London Stadium to understand how key decisions were made about its transformation and why costs were allowed to spiral out of control. What has been presented is simply staggering. Not for the first time, it reveals a bungled decision-making process that has the previous mayor’s fingerprints all over it.
“Boris Johnson clearly panicked when faced with legal challenges about West Ham and Newham’s joint bid to take ownership of the Stadium and then decided to re-run the bid process with the taxpayer taking all the risks and footing almost the whole bill.
“You simply couldn’t make it up. The fact he also failed to properly examine the transformation costs or the entirely inadequate estimates for moving the retractable seats leaves us squarely in the dire financial situation we are in.
“I am determined to put the London Stadium towards a stronger financial footing and secure its long-term future, but I’m under no illusion that this is going to take time and some real commitment from all partners to make this work.”
A partner at Moore Stephens, Merryck Lowe, stated: “Moore Stephens is delighted to have had the opportunity to work on behalf of the mayor of London to provide London’s citizens with an insight into the costs and work involved in transforming the Olympic Stadium.
“We believe our report will assist transparency, enabling everyone taking an interest in the Stadium to understand its history and challenges. I look forward to answering any questions which the London Assembly may raise later this month.”