UKA chief backs Hammers bid

Warner is firmly in the Hammers’ 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 and lucrative –

and avoid the problems of a running track inside the stadium. 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 and 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.

“Having spent many years on the plans for the new Anfield I know

how critically important it is to get the sight-lines right and the

viewing distances right, in terms of maximising revenue and the

supporters getting the best match-day experience. “I think it does

have a genuine effect on attendances – the more you meet the needs

of the paying public the more likely they are to come.” Gus Poyet,

the former Tottenham midfielder and now manager of Brighton, said

his experiences with the running track at the Withdean Stadium have

not been positive. Poyet said: “The track is one of the biggest

problems we have and why we are desperate to move to the new

stadium. “As a foreigner one of the best things about playing here

is that the supporters are very close – the atmosphere is a massive

difference and it should be a football stadium and not an athletics

stadium.”