Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Redknapp attacks Hammers plan

Harry Redknapp

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has criticised West Ham's plans to retain an athletics track if they move to the Olympic Stadium, saying the venue would become a "desolate graveyard".

Redknapp's current club are competing with the Hammers, who he managed from 1994 until 2001, for the right to move into the stadium in Stratford, east London, after the 2012 Games. While Spurs propose to transform the stadium into a football-only venue and redevelop the Crystal Palace athletics stadium, West Ham intend to retain the running track so that the stadium can be a multi-use site.

"Try to mix football and athletics and you end up with a great big bowl of nothing," Redknapp wrote in his column for The Sun. "The windblown no man's land between a pitch and the stands can kill football."

He added: "We keep hearing about the Olympic legacy and the need to have a world-class athletics stadium after the 2012 Games in London. But my big fear is that if West Ham move into a stadium in Stratford with a whacking great running track around the pitch, the only legacy for them will be a nightmare.

"And what if West Ham are relegated this season and then find themselves in a 60,000-capacity stadium in a Championship match.

"Can you imagine? Half the seats would be empty and it would become a desolate graveyard for a once-great club."

The president of the International Association of Athletics Federations Lamine Diack has warned that Britain's sporting reputation will be "dead" if the Spurs proposal is accepted and the athletics track is removed.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) will on Friday receive final submissions from Tottenham and West Ham, who would keep the athletics track, ahead of a likely decision next week.