Olympic stadium deal with West Ham collapses

Updated: 11 October 2011 20:42 IST

The future of London's Olympic Stadium was plunged into uncertainty on Tuesday after the collapse of a deal which would have seen Championship side West Ham move to the venue.

Olympic stadium deal with West Ham collapses

London:

The future of London's Olympic Stadium was plunged into uncertainty on Tuesday after the collapse of a deal which would have seen Championship side West Ham move to the venue.


Britain's sports minister Hugh Robertson confirmed the deal regarding the venue's post-2012 future had unravelled amid mounting concerns over the legal challenges facing the venture.

Tottenham and Leyton Orient had both challenged the Hammers' move to the venue while an anonymous complaint to the European Commission had fuelled concerns the stadium may lay empty for years as legal battles proceeded.

The stadium will now remain in public ownership before being leased to a tenant following a new tender process by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC).

West Ham, who had joined forces with local Newham council to win the original race for the stadium, confirmed Tuesday they plan to bid for the tenancy.

Robertson meanwhile said Tuesday's developments came after Newham Council indicated it no longer wished to proceed with the deal because of the mounting uncertainty.

"The key point is the action we have taken today is about removing the uncertainty. The process had become bogged down in legal paralysis," Robertson told the Press Association.

"Particularly relevant has been the anonymous complaint to the EC over 'state aid' and the OPLC received a letter from Newham Council yesterday (Monday) saying because of the uncertainty they no longer wanted to proceed.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back and we thought it better to stop it dead in it tracks now.

"We know there is huge interest in the stadium out there from private operators and football clubs and crucially we remove any uncertainty."

Robertson meanwhile denied the stadium, which British athletics chiefs hope will host the world championships in 2017, was in danger of becoming a "white elephant."

"This is not a white elephant stadium where no one wants it, we have had two big clubs fighting tooth and nail to get it," he said.

Under the revised plans, incoming tenants of the stadium would pay an annual rent to the OPLC which is likely to reduce costs for West Ham.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson welcomed the development.

"We will keep it in public hands but we will effectively rent it to a football club, almost certainly West Ham, and that will cover the costs and I think it will be a very good deal for the taxpayer," Johnson said.

Meanwhile UK Athletics chief Ed Warner welcomed the move, saying it would increase London's chances of being awarded the 2017 World Championships because the running track at the facility would now definitely be retained.

"It's fantastic for UK Athletics and it is a bold and decisive move by the legacy company," Warner told BBC Radio Five Live.

"We had a meeting with the IAAF inspectors last week and we gave Government guarantees that the athletics track will stay in place.

"The IAAF were concerned when they arrived but when they left they told us that the issue was completely resolved. We laid out the legal options and they went away happy.

"I'm very hopeful that we will get the nod for 2017."



Topics : Football Olympics 2012
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