Blog by Sean Whetstone
Today’s joint statement between West Ham and E20 that the London Stadium capacity issue has been resolved came as no surprise to me despite no prior knowledge of a deal to settle a long-running feud.
I have been following the story for nearly two years but the stadium owners were running out of options and were likely to end up with more egg on their faces if it was left up to a judge to decide the final outcome of this very public dispute. The decisive turning point came last Thursday as West Ham triumphed in the live streamed court of appeal hearing. That judgement forced E20 to disclose highly relevant documents of an ‘off radar’ discussion which is thought to harm their own defence case.
Offering to settle out of court today as I am sure they did was E20’s best option to save some face and avoid additional weeks of barrister legal costs at the taxpayer’s expense. It was a case they were always destined to lose and everyone seemed to know it. Details behind the joint agreement are currently scarce, which is not unusual in these cases but I would be surprised if E20 are not picking up West Ham’s £2m legal bill which has been incurred as well as they own legal bill of another £2m.
There is always a risk of ligation and I am sure West Ham themselves will have conceded something to settle this out of court even though they had the dominant position and nothing to lose from the case going to trial.
The Newham led London stadium Safety Advisory Group (SAG) will now need to approve a safety certificate amendment to 60,000 which should almost be a foregone conclusion. An increase to 66,000 is still thought to be some way off with an estimated investment of £10m required to upgrade stadium toilets and catering kiosks. West Ham is likely to contribute the majority of that cost when there is a clear demand to move to 66,000.
I am sure there are a few more twists and turns in this story but time will soon tell what has been agreed. As in all things the devil is in the detail!