Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Olympic race ends with West Ham awarded 2012 stadium

West Ham appear to have beaten Tottenham in the race for the 2012 Olympic Stadium.





The Olympic Park Legacy Company board will meet tomorrow morning and it being reported that the West Ham bid is the only one that satisfies the criteria laid down by Government.

Olympic chiefs had stressed the importance of an athletics legacy in the capital and the Hammers had promised to retain the running track in the stadium.

Tottenham had planned to rip out the track and rebuild a football stadium from scratch on the site while refurbishing the Crystal Palace athletics stadium as an alternative legacy.

A failure to meet the key legacy commitment of the bid, allied to some concerns over the cost and source of some funding in the Tottenham bid, may have counted against them.

Concerns over financial aspects of West Ham’s bid have been raised during a bitter lobbying campaign, but the fact their construction costs are cheaper than Tottenham’s and involve less borrowing may have counted in their favour.

West Ham have said it will cost £95 million to convert the stadium for football, including the addition of a permanent roof and facilities including hospitality, toilets and concessions.

If West Ham’s selection as preferred bidder is ratified by the 14-member OPLC board it will then pass to London mayor Boris Johnson and Government ministers Jeremy Hunt and Eric Pickles for ratification.

Given the Government has repeatedly restated its commitment to the Olympic project and the legacy commitments made in Singapore, it would be surprising were they to go against the recommendation of the OPLC.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe had favoured the Hammers bid, saying there was a “moral obligation” to preserve the Olympic Stadium as a multi-sport facility.

“It's serious we deliver what we said we were going to unless we're prepared to trash our reputation,” he said.

“It'd be very difficult for us to be taken seriously in the corridors of world sport and arguably beyond.”

Meanwhile, Coe has admitted that clubs may be able to prevent players appearing in both the Euro 2012 finals and the London Olympic football tournament.

There had been hopes that the Olympics would see the likes of Wayne Rooney taking part but the European Clubs Association (ECA) — which includes Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea — insist their players must not be forced to compete in more than one major competition per season.

Coe said: “I'm sure the clubs will have a say on that, and the domestic federations, and clearly it may not be possible for players to play in both tournaments.

“I think that's very much an issue for football.”

Manchester United chief executive David Gill, an ECA board member, said that the Premier League would support the Olympic tournament if a reasonable approach was taking to the release of players.

“A player who is in the squad for Euro 2012 should not then be in the Olympic squad,” Gill said.

“Football is a key part of the Olympics and we are very happy to participate as a league and release players and we support it, but I hope that common sense will prevail.”

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