Spurs concerned over 'leak'

BY foxsports • February 11, 2011

The Hammers' victory in the race to take over the stadium in Stratford will come as a relief to the politicians, but leaves Spurs' plans to cement their place in football's elite in tatters. The Olympic Park Legacy Company's (OPLC) board will announce their choice of tenant for the post-2012 stadium at a news conference in Westminster on Friday morning, with board members being recommended by officials to choose West Ham. That will see the athletics track retained inside the stadium and avoid huge embarrassment to ministers and the London mayor Boris Johnson, who would otherwise have been accused of breaking promises to the International Olympic Committee. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has previously suggested the club would consider applying for a judicial review if they believed that their bid was not given fair consideration. The likelihood of that has receded slightly although all options are still being kept open. Levy has already declared Spurs' alternative stadium plan, the Northumberland Park project, to be financially unviable and the club now face the grim prospect of remaining at their old home until a third way out of White Hart Lane can be found. Matchday takings there are £1.5million each game - £2million less than the sum received by north London rivals Arsenal. Spurs have been named as 12th in Europe's 'rich list' of clubs by Deloitte, and sixth in the Premier League. On Thursday, Tottenham expressed their concerns however that the news of West Ham's victory had leaked out ahead of the OPLC meeting. The club said in a statement: "Whilst we are concerned to read that there appears to have been a leak of information from the OPLC about what their recommendation and decision may be, we regard it as premature to make any comment at this stage." The recommendation from OPLC executives does not automatically mean that West Ham will win the backing of the board members, but it would be a major surprise if that was not the case. The board's decision also has to be ratified by two Government departments and the London Mayor's office, and that is likely to take place next week. Again, it would be a huge shock if the OPLC decision was not rubber-stamped by the ministers and Boris Johnson. Tottenham's consortium will look for guarantees that the row over the athletics track, which became a highly-charged political issue, did not count against them. Their plans were to create a football-only stadium without the track and redevelop the Crystal Palace athletics stadium for that sport. London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe was among those calling for the track to be maintained in line with promises made to the IOC back in 2005. It seems likely that the cost of the West Ham development has counted in the Hammers' favour: they plan to spend only £95million - £40million coming in the form of a loan from bid partner Newham Council - while Spurs' proposals would have seen the club borrow around £250million. It will be years, however, before it can be determined whether the running track does have any effect on the long-term viability of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium. Tim Leiweke, the president of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) who are partnering Tottenham, claimed yesterday the Olympic Stadium would "go broke in 10 years" if the athletics track is retained. Former Tottenham chairman Lord Sugar has been highly critical of the anticipated move to approve West Ham's proposals, insisting the decision was "weak and cowardly". "You cannot combine football and an athletics stadium together; it simply doesn't work and has been proven time and time again," Sugar told BBC Sport. "My concern will be that if it does go in that direction we'll end up with another white elephant, another leftover from the Olympics that we once had in 2012 - a bit like the [millennium] dome which has been rescued now, funnily enough by the partners of Tottenham. The proposed partners of Tottenham for their idea for the stadium." Sugar insists the Tottenham plan offered better value for money for the taxpayer. He said: "The fact of the matter is that [Tottenham] are also talking about assisting athletics by refurbishing Crystal Palace, rebuilding the Crystal Palace facility so that the athletics people can get action 24-hours a day, seven days a week access to it. "They're never going to get access like that with the proposal of West Ham's. "How many athletic events are actually going to happen at the Olympic Stadium with West Ham there as the main resident? Has anybody even thought that through? Scheduling, rearranging the seating plan and all that type of stuff. It is not a proper venue for both football and athletics together. It is just a flawed idea. "If they do make a decision in West Ham's direction, it will be a weak and cowardly decision."


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