Belfast Telegraph

UKA chief backs Hammers stadium bid

The head of UK Athletics claims there is a clear moral choice to be made over the future of the Olympic Stadium: to take Tottenham's "filthy lucre" or keep the promises made when London were bidding for the 2012 Games and go with West Ham.

Ed Warner, UK Athletics chairman, is firmly in West Ham's camp with the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) expected to make a decision at the end of the month. Tottenham claim their plan to demolish the stadium and rebuild a purpose-built football ground, plus redevelop Crystal Palace athletics stadium, would be far more sustainable.

But Warner said: "The decision-makers have a choice of taking the filthy lucre offered by Tottenham or doing right by the Olympic Movement and standing by the promises made by London in Singapore. In my mind it's an easy decision to make."

Warner also denied that West Ham's economic case does not stack up.

He added: "I think West Ham's economic case is rock solid and based on them being a Championship club in the first instance. So they are not being imprudent, they would have a loan from Newham council and there is no public subsidy, no drain on the public purse."

Tottenham are aware of the need for London to have an athletics legacy after the 2012 Olympics and have identified a renovation of Crystal Palace as their best option for the sport.

But Warner described that as "a meagre consolation prize", adding: "It's not in the best part of London, it is not in the Olympic Park and we don't think it could be turned into a stadium we could take the World Championships to."

UK Athletics are intending to bid for the 2017 World Championships being based at the Olympic Stadium. The need to express their interest by March.

However Rick Parry, the former Premier League and Liverpool chief executive, has expressed major doubts about West Ham's bid to take over the stadium due to their plans to keep the running track.

Parry said: "Football-specific stadia are far more suited to the needs of the football-going public than stadiums with an athletic track round it. My experience of stadiums around Europe is that when you have a track you lose atmosphere, and the further from the pitch you are the less intimate the experience."


From Belfast Telegraph