PAI Capital has reached an agreement in principle with London Legacy Development Corporation for a long-term lease over London Stadium that would see PAI taking full control of the venue.
This would be on condition of PAI successfully concluding a deal for majority control of West Ham United with the current owners of the club. PAI said in a statement:
The Stadium needs to be a home of which the Club and its fans can be proud. The Boleyn has gone, times move on and with the right adjustments - and under single ownership - we believe that this Stadium can meet the needs of fans old and new. It will require changes to the configuration within the Stadium itself, as well as extended facilities for fans in and around the ground, that will significantly improve the match day experience.
As things stand, divergent interests prevent the Stadium from reaching its full potential – despite it attracting the biggest events in sport and entertainment. The current arrangement between the Stadium owners and the club limit opportunities to integrate the Club and the Stadium into the Olympic Park as a whole.
Our vision is for the Club’s interests and activities to be integrated with those of the entire Park - friends and families coming to watch men’s, women’s or Academy matches should be able to enjoy everything the area has to offer instead of being shuffled from station to seat and back again.
The agreement in principle has been developed with input from some of the most experienced people in the sport and entertainment space.
At this stage it rightly focuses on the outlines plans for purchasing the Club, then the Stadium, but PAI said it also believes that further discussions can explore how the club can best contribute to enhance and maximise usage of the Park both for the benefit of the Club and for the wider east London community.
Phil Beard of PAI said:
In summary, we are pursuing an ambitious and complex deal. There has been too much controversy and contention over the past few years. We genuinely believe that the Club, Stadium and Park will thrive when the stakeholders are all pulling in the same direction. The only thing holding us back for now is the reluctance of the Club’s owners to engage in constructive and realistic negotiations. We believe they are willing to sell, and hope we can make progress in the coming weeks.
Nasib Piriyev of PAI added:
We do not underestimate the challenge - nor the importance - of running a football club. We have an experienced, dedicated team in place for this aspect, with ambassadors of the Club playing a key role to ensure that we stay true to the claret and blue traditions. We cannot recreate Fortress Upton Park at the London Stadium, but we can make significant improvements to the configuration, the catering and hospitality, and the transition from station to stadium for the fans. Moreover, we intend to stay loyal to the core values of the Club. To that end, we are delighted that the likes of Rio Ferdinand have agreed to be involved.
Ex West Ham star Rio Ferdinand confirmed his commitment to the project:
We love this Club with a passion, both (my brother) Anton and I are really happy that PAI want to come in and help improve the experience for fans, and I’m delighted they have asked us to play a big part in the Club if their bid succeeds. Obviously we know what this Club means to the community and how much the fans want to continue to see homegrown talent come through into the first team. It’ll be an honour to be able to give something back to a Club that means so much to me, Anton and our family.
PSAM editor John Sheehan caught up with Yves De Cocker, Managing Director of PitchTecConcept, who explains how his company bridges the gap between sports organisations and the technology used in the playing surface industry.
The interview covers:
Yves 20+ years industry leading experience in the evolution of hybrid grass, trends he has noticed and some of the notable projects he has been involved with
The key reasons for Yves launching PitchTecConcept
Common mistakes often made with playing surface management
The steps he offers as a bridge between the industry and the end user
Advice to clubs looking to maximise their event calendars without compromising on the performance of their playing surface