BBC News 24 has just brought the story that there were advanced talks between West Ham and the Olympic Park Legacy Company for the football club to take over the Olympic Stadium after the Olympics in 2012. This story follows an earlier one that West Ham had been just one of many interested parties but that there hadn’t been any advanced talks regarding the future of the Olympic Stadium. The fact that there had indeed been advanced talks and that West Ham had in January 2007 presented a detailed offer was presented by BBC News 24 as a failure on behalf of OPLC to come up with a credible way of turning the Stadium into a financial success story.
At that time Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, then a major shareholder in Landsbanki (later of Icesave fame), had recently bought West Ham. Gudmundsson bought West Ham in late 2006. First however it was made to look as if Eggert Magnusson, Gudmundsson’s long time friend, was buying the club. From the beginning there were rumours that apart from his interest in football Gudmundsson had his eyes on lucrative real estate spin offs at West Ham.
Considering the fact that everything Gudmundsson touched went bankrupt or close to – think XL Leisure – it can hardly have been a bad thing that whatever deals were on the table in January 2007 for the Olympic Stadium and West Ham they didn’t take off. Certainly, Gudmundsson didn’t bankrupt West Ham but those who bought West Ham from the banks and investors who landed West Ham after Gudmundsson went bankrupt have said that the running of West Ham under Gudmundsson’s ownership was messy. Many Icelanders will sigh in relief at the thought that Gudmundsson didn’t become mixed up with the Olympic Stadium since that deal might then have been added to the huge cost born by Icelanders from Gudmundsson’s failed business ventures.
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