Football: West Ham must pay off $135.6m debts before move to Olympic Stadium

LONDON (AFP) - West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has revealed that the English Premier League football club will have to pay off all their bank debt before their move to the Olympic Stadium.

The Hammers have debts of £70 million (S$135.6 million), half of that bank debt secured on their Upton Park stadium, and that has to be cleared when the ground is sold ahead of the move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016.

Brady, giving evidence to the House of Lords committee on Olympic and Paralympic legacy on Wednesday, also insisted that the club was not getting the stadium on the cheap and that the deal was good value to the British tax payer.

The club did have a buyer in place for Upton Park but that fell through due to the delays in the long and controversial battle to be Olympic Stadium tenants.

"We did have a tentative deal for Upton Park but that fell away. We hope the money generated from the sale of Upton Park will be enough to fulfil our commitment and to help pay off some of our bank debt," she said.

"When we bought the club and took on more than £100 million of debt that was guaranteed on the ground. We have to pay off all our bank debt to move, we can't take the debt with us."

Brady was also asked to respond to a claim by former sports minister Richard Caborn that West Ham was getting the £600 million stadium for just £15 million plus £2 million a year rent with the tax payer picking up the tab.

"The alternative scenario does not bear thinking about," she said.

"West Ham is not getting a free stadium. The stadium was built for the Olympics and what are we going to do with it? Across the world, stadiums that are not used die.

"Without anchor tenants, the cost would be huge to the tax payer."

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