Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Hammers 'committed' to stadium move

Olympic Stadium

West Ham have vowed that relegation from the Premier League will not scupper their plans to move into the Olympic Stadium.

Whatever the impact of demotion on the Hammers' already fragile finances, they will not change plans to make the £486 million stadium their new home after the London 2012 Games, according to West Ham.

A spokesman said: "We remain totally committed to it. Our target is to move there in three football seasons' time and we would hope that we would return to the Premier League as soon as possible."

He added: "Our bid (to move into the stadium) was based on several different areas. It was modelled on Premier League, Championship and different scenarios - that has been the case from day one. As far as our plans for the Olympic Stadium are concerned, we are continuing at a pace.

"All things are connected but the club will obviously set about rebuilding so that we are in a position to challenge at the highest level in the Championship and get back into the Premier League as soon as possible. No doubt we will be doing things in the coming weeks in order to prepare the club to hopefully get back. We just have to get on with it."

Avram Grant was sacked as manager just over an hour after the 3-2 defeat at fellow strugglers Wigan, West Ham's 18th league loss, sealed their relegation. The Hammers, in a joint bid with Newham Council, intend to convert the 80,000-seater stadium into a 60,000-seater stadium, keeping an athletics track.

The club plan to move from Upton Park in 2014-15 with a 250-year lease and to give a 250-year lease to UK Athletics (UKA). They have begun a competitive tender, which could take at least three months to complete, to find contractors to convert the stadium.

They are also still discussing a deal with the Olympic Park Legacy Company in order to move to the stadium. They are pressing ahead with talks in the face of possible judicial reviews by Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient over the way in which they became preferred bidder to move into the venue.

Last month Spurs, who were beaten by West Ham to become the preferred bidder, applied for a judicial review of Newham Council's role in arranging a £40 million loan to finance West Ham's move. The club have widened the appeal and asked the High Court to start a separate judicial review into the roles of several other parties involved in awarding West Ham the stadium.

In March, Spurs wrote letters to all parties involved in the process, demanding answers about how the decision was reached. The club applied for judicial review in relation to Newham Council after receiving what it said were unacceptable answers. Last month Leyton Orient also demanded a judicial review of Newham's role in partnering West Ham's bid.

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