By Harry Sykes
West Ham are facing a massive blow as Vodafone are preparing to pull the plug on a £20million naming rights deal for the London Stadium after a draft contract had been drawn up, according to a report.
The Times claim the mobile communications giant were due to sign a six-year deal worth more than £3million per annum in time for the start of the next season.
It is said that Vodafone have reconsidered the plan despite it reaching an advanced stage and will confirm on Tuesday that it has pulled out of the proposed naming rights deal with the London Stadium.
The Times State that the telecoms company is concerned at an investigation of West Ham’s transfer business by tax authorities following HMRC’s raid on the club’s offices at the ground last month.
Vodafone’s board have had the £20million draft contract on the table since the start of last month and it was in line to be signed before August.
However, there is a concern among company chiefs about how long the investigation will last even if the authorities decide West Ham have no case to answer.
Vodaone is anxious to avoid further negative publicity around its sports sponsorship deals after a terrorist attack on the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, home to the Turkish football club Besiktas, which killed 38 people in December.
The Times report that London E20 Stadium, the company set up to manage the former Olympic stadium in Stratford, east London, will return to the market after the summer to find a new naming sponsor.
West Ham are tenants of the government-owned stadium, paying £2.5million-a-year in rent, but share profits from hospitality, catering and other revenue streams under the terms of the deal.