Stadium deal ‘almost completed’

Robertson said he had studied the papers produced by the Olympic

Park Legacy Company, who selected West Ham as the preferred bidder

over Tottenham on Friday, and has been satisfied the process had

been done correctly. The choice has to be ratified by two

Government departments – the Departments of Culture, Media and

Sport, and Communities and Local Government – and the London

Mayor’s office. Robertson told BBC Radio 5Live’s Sportsweek: “I

have read all the board papers carefully and I’m entirely sure

myself the OPLC’s process was robust and independent.” Asked if in

that case he would vote for West Ham to get the stadium, he added:

“There is a process to go through but West Ham are clearly in the

lead. I’m absolutely convinced that the OPLC process has been

robust and independent, so yes. “We want to make a formal

announcement to Parliament but we know the clock is ticking and we

want to get it done as quickly as possible.” Robertson said he did

not believe the issue of the running track would cause problems to

football fans at the stadium, and said West Ham could have

retractable seating so long as they kept their promises to

athletics. He added: “People tend to think of a 1980s’ mixed-use

stadium. This is a much more modern stadium, the sightlines are

much better, the fans are much closer to centre spot than the outer

seats at Wembley. “Anybody who has stood in the middle of where the

pitch will be will tell you that it looks much, much better. If

West Ham want to bring in retractable seating and can still fulfil

the promises they made to athletics then that’s fair enough.”

Robertson also confirmed he was keen to support a bid for the 2017

World Athletics Championships but that there need to be talks on

underwriting the cost of staging the event – around

£45million. He said: “The World Athletics Championships are

quite expensive things to bid for – they require considerable

underwriting of around £45million. Ticket sales only bring a

small proportion in, so we have to look at that very carefully

indeed with the financial position we are in. “As sports minister

though I want to bring every possible international competition to

this country so I would look at that very carefully indeed. “I

would very much like athletics to be a part of that. It would be a

huge shame if it did not happen.”