BBC BLOGS - David Bond
« Previous | Main | Next »

The cost of shunning Premier League duo

Post categories:

David Bond | 10:20 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

One of the questions which keeps coming up in the debate over the future use of the Olympic Stadium is, why did organisers decide back in 2006 and early 2007 to rule out a design which could have accommodated Premier League football?

Instead of building the £500m stadium only to reduce it from 80,000 seats to a 25,000 capacity athletics arena, why didn't designers come up with a plan that would have kept big football and the track and field community happy?

If they had done so, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) would have avoided the difficult dilemma it faces of choosing between two bids essentially from Premier League clubs.

As we know West Ham are prepared to retain the running track which is such an emotive and fundamental part of the promises made by London's winning bid team back in 2005.

But Tottenham want to knock the majority of the stadium down and rebuild it as a football only ground while relocating an athletics legacy to a spruced up Crystal Palace.

Today both bidders will send in clarifications to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), the body charged with the task of choosing between these two bids. A decision on a preferred bidder is likely by the end of next week.Had Premier League football been factored in from the start then the OPLC's choice might have been an easier one. As it is, the idea of designing a stadium with retractable seating which could have factored in athletics and football or one which could have been easily adapted like the City of Manchester Stadium was rejected very early on in the process and not long after London had won the bid.

It has already been reported elsewhere that earlier interest from West Ham back in December 2006 and January 2007 was rebuffed by the Olympic board because a strategic decision had been taken by the ODA and its designers to rule out a Premier League option.

Despite an offer from West Ham, outlined in two letters to the ODA in December 2006 and January 2007, to pay £100m towards the extra costs created by a redesign, the ODA ploughed on with the reduced capacity athletics option.

I have now received information which sheds new light on why this happened.

A sign at the Olympic Park in Stratford

Spurs and West Ham are hoping all roads lead to the Olympic Stadium. Photo: Getty

As far back as the July 2006 Olympic Board meeting, the decision was taken to go for the so-called "base case" with athletics. This was reiterated at another meeting of the Olympic Board in November 2006.

Why was the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell so determined to ignore the possibility of a big Premier League team moving in after the Games?

According to one source I have spoken to, the Government commissioned a report by consultants KPMG to examine the legacy options for the stadium. This included KPMG testing the market for interest from a Premier League club.

There was interest from West Ham but by July 2006 the ODA received no formal tenders from any clubs.

But with the clock ticking down, the ODA felt under pressure to start the procurement process for the stadium. They were anxious not to have a repeat of the Wembley Stadium fiasco which came in late and over budget and with an immovable completion deadline of one year before the Games, the Mayor, the Government and the ODA didn't want to take any risks.

The ODA went ahead with the procurement process choosing Team McAlpine and designs for the 80,000 to 25,000 stadium were drawn up by architects.

What potentially changed the situation was the Icelandic takeover by Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and Eggert Magnusson in the autumn of 2006. The former chairman of the ODA Sir Roy McNulty received a short letter from West Ham on 4 December which outlined their interest but set out a number of conditions. These included:

* Being granted the freehold for the stadium
* Becoming the sole operator
* A retractable seating design
* A 500-space car park

These were reiterated in a more formal offer letter from West Ham's financial director Nick Igoe on 17 January 2007.

But for a third time the Premier League football option was rejected by the Olympic Board at a meeting in February.

Ministers, the Mayor of London and the ODA decided that after six months work the designs were too far down the line to reverse them without jeopardising the timetable for the stadium's delivery.

The source adds that reconfiguring the stadium with retractable seating would have meant submitting a complete redesign which involved moving and reconfiguring stands, starting a new tender process (as a public asset the ODA couldn't just hand the stadium to one bidder without going out to market again) and submitting a new planning application.

That would have had an impact on costs which West Ham's £100m offer may not have covered and potentially caused serious delays.

There was also opposition from developers Westfield, building the new Stratford City shopping complex and the entrance to the Olympic Park. Negotiations with the ODA and landowners were at a delicate stage and they, at that stage, were against a Premier League club moving into the stadium. It is ironic that Westfield are now working with West Ham and Newham Council on their bid.

The other factor to consider is that the ODA had commissioned in September 2006 another group of consultants, PMP, to examine the legacy plans for the stadium and the rest of the park following the work done by KPMG.

They were hired to look at all the options for the stadium except, once again, a combination of Premier League football and athletics, rugby union and rugby league and lower league football were considered.

PMP looked at the finances of the stadium over a five year period following the Games and estimated what the different configurations might cost. Among their findings PMP concluded:

* That an athletics only stadium would need a public subsidy of approximately £1m a year.

* That a combination of athletics and lower league football would only need a subsidy of £1m to £1.5m over five years (£200,000 to £300,000 a year).

Since then estimates for the public subsidy have soared to £5m-£10m a year depending who you believe but at the time, the ODA argued that a £10m subsidy guaranteed by the London Mayor would more than cover the £1m annual cost of running the athletics only legacy.

The PMP report was completed by January 2007 - exactly the same time West Ham were making their offer.

Since then, of course, the OPLC has been brought in to re-think the legacy plans for the stadium and reach out to Premier League football.

And while few expect the OPLC to stick with the original plan chosen back in 2007, a look back at the reasons for that decision do pose another interesting question.

Would the public be prepared to pay for a stadium which shuns Premier League football again and sticks to the legacy promise to athletics made in Singapore six years ago?

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    It fills me with rage to think about the incompetant idiots who were rushing this planning through before their self imposed deadlines. No one was one iota concerned about the legacy. They wanted to get the stadium built and that was that. Any sensible voices were drowned out or stamped on. This is typical of the way the old government used to run things.

  • Comment number 2.

    Philip Lewis has alot to answer for.

  • Comment number 3.

    Should have had it in Manchester or Birmingham.

    London embarrasses the country yet again.

    Wembley. The Shooting range. The Mountain Biking. The Olympic stadium. Billions and billions of pounds. Bad value, bad venues.

    You let us down.

  • Comment number 4.

    well obviously we have got to this situation for no good reason. admittedly i am not an athletics fan, but is it just me, or does no one else think that interest and passion simply isn't there to warrant an athletics stadium of that scale beyond the Olympics. in these financially troubled times, surely the only sensible thing to do is to go with the option that takes any necessary burden off the tax payer. with this in mind i don't trust west hams ability to fill the stadium, or pay for it with their own money. surely spurs bid is the sensible choice, it's not like they're neglecting athletics either, they're sending it home!

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice post.

    I think most taxpayers would agree that they would not want to foot the bill for a stadium that gets used every other year when there were two big premiership teams fighting to take over the stadium.

    However it does pose the dilemma (if they do make it football only) as to what the international community would think of us going back on our promise.

    To be honest there were so many mistakes made in the planning (as you have highlighted) and if they had truly considered the cost and practicalities of running an athletics only stadium, they would surely have made it convertible to other sports.

    However given hindsight this world would be the perfect place and we never be able to have these debates over past mistakes made!

  • Comment number 6.

    Good blog David. Another reason why politics should not be mixed with sports which is where Fifa actually do better than the IOC in their policies. Where are Ken Livingstone & Tessa Jowel now; out of government and out of sight. Where such an important infrastructure development was handled by the private sector, proper project management qualities should have been the basis by which this stadium would have been built. Intense risk management involving scenario planners would have been a core strategy helping to deliver a sustainable project that would have met the most desired requirements. However at the time of conceiving the ideas, we had a government in power who were spending our money as if in a fantasy world, and probably believed that the athletics only stadium plan would be easily subsidised by the tax payer while they were wining & dining with the bankers.
    Its such a shame, Wembly went down this road, and people did not learn their lesson, especially when the likes of Arsenal (a private business) built a brilliant stadium, with cost efficiencies in the same city and labour market. Hope ths present government have the right people consulted to sort this issue out, cos it will be a great shame where as a country we end up with a 'white elephant' after the mistakes from the Greeks from us to learn from

  • Comment number 7.

    This is now getting even more fiasco-like than Wembley. At least Wembley we knew who the final user of the building were going to be, and we we're not spending £500m on a two month maximum arena. Once we had won the bid, it should have been given to West Ham (Newham). And designed for two months on olympics, and given to WHU, with the potential of remove seats to reveal track!
    Currently no one has the stadium, it will be used a 2 months. Then not used to its potential after! One word shambles, we are getting use to it in this country!

  • Comment number 8.

    Its an utter farce and those responsible should be held to account be we all know they won't be.

    The whole idea of an athletics stadium was a complete non starter, unless they admit it will be bankrolled by the tax payer for the life of the stadium. Athletics as a sport is neither big enough nor popular enough to warrant a dedicated stadium. As a sport it has lurched from one financial crisis to another and relies on defacto handouts from the governemnt as it is too keep going, why should the taxpayer subsidise it any further?

  • Comment number 9.

    I hope in 100 years time that our descendants will look at this and ask themselves if the Olympics is really worth it when the subject of bidding for the games comes up again. I don't personally think it is for the amount of money spent. Yes East London has been regenerated but this could have been done better with more private funds. As someone mentioned earlier, look what Arsenal managed to do with the Emirates and the housing development on their old ground.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm feeling an enormous sense of deja vous here: Public money is spent re-developing a site which is then sold to a private company for a fraction of its value so they can make a fortune from it.
    We shouldn't be selling it, it should be leased with a competitive amount of rent going back into the public purse.
    Either that or we keep it entirely, modify it after the games to accommodate a number of sports (Athletics, Cricket, Football, Rugby) as well as concert events and then put (seperate) maintenance and admin/event management contracts out to tender.
    Failing that we sell it to the West Ham bid so that they can do the above but with a handsome profit for the taxpayer.
    Under no circumstances should an athletics stadium built with public money be sold to someone who intends to bulldoze it and use it for football.

  • Comment number 11.

    @No. 8 - How can we hold people involved accountable? As far as any of us know, nothing illegal has happened, and all that anyone involved can say is "sorry that I tried to put athletics before football, I won't make that mistake again".

    At least we're not embroiled with collapsing bridges and child labour.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is absolutely ridiculous, why did it even need to wait until after 2006/07 for this? Surely when the bid was being drawn up a realistic, commercially viable legacy plan (that involved athletics but also other, larger revenue streams) should have been made. What's the point in going all out to win something for which you know you'll have to spend millions on infrastructure that's going to last just a few weeks with no idea of how this will be used after?

    With no real legacy plan how could the bid itself be justified?

    http://iradar666.blogspot.com/2011/01/elephant-in-room.html

  • Comment number 13.

    Good blog by the way David, all of your blogs on this have been informative.

  • Comment number 14.

    Looking at it objectively we need an athletic legacy, WHU will provide that by retaining the running track but somewhere will be needed to hold field events and will they be able to put in a sand-pit and other surfaces needed for those. probably not. Lease West Ham the stadium but also ensure that some of the money from the leasing is used to offset the potential loss of revenue that Leyton Orient will incur.

    Spurs should stay in Tottenham

  • Comment number 15.

    @No. 11,

    Try banning them from public office for gross incompetence and waste of taxpayers money would be a good start.

    The olympics from start to finish have been a mixture of mismanagement and outright lies starting with 'its going to cost us £2.3bn', last figure i saw £11.9bn. What did we get instead, the bloke that spouted that nonsense invited to join the world cup bid, Brilliant!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 - nothing about your argument is "objective". Exactly why do we NEED an athletics legacy at the OS? It's ideal yes, but imperative? I don't think so. WHU provide that legacy through an atmosphere-less venue.

    What is objective about giving money to Leyton Orient? Above all else this is sport - it is supposed to be competitive. West Ham feeding money in LOFC is ludicrous.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think it's symptomatic of how Premiership football has taken over the country that people are asking why an athletics stadium was NOT built as a freebie for either of the biggest sporting clubs in the land.

  • Comment number 18.

    Short term thinking by Jowett and Livingstone.

    If Spurs are so keen, why didn't they express that in 2006/7.

    They've come to the party too late!

  • Comment number 19.

    10. At 2:22pm on 03 Feb 2011, Big Phill wrote:
    I'm feeling an enormous sense of deja vous here: Public money is spent re-developing a site which is then sold to a private company for a fraction of its value so they can make a fortune from it.
    We shouldn't be selling it, it should be leased with a competitive amount of rent going back into the public purse.
    Either that or we keep it entirely, modify it after the games to accommodate a number of sports (Athletics, Cricket, Football, Rugby) as well as concert events and then put (seperate) maintenance and admin/event management contracts out to tender.
    Failing that we sell it to the West Ham bid so that they can do the above but with a handsome profit for the taxpayer.
    Under no circumstances should an athletics stadium built with public money be sold to someone who intends to bulldoze it and use it for football.

    Complain about this comment

    -----------------------------------------------

    Can West Ham afford to buy the stadium? Would they want to if its in its current state??

    And all very good saying lease it, but who would want it regularly?

    Leasing is all very good but it would take a very very long time for the cost of the stadium to be paid for - if it was leased out for a staggering amount of £25million a year that's still going to be 20 years.

    Meanwhile the alternative is to sell the land - although it may have to be at a reduced rate due to the lack of people who actually want it - but in doing so this does at least ensure the public purse gets over £200m back now at the point when the country really needs that money to pay for all kinds of things that are far more essential

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks David Bond, another good and informative article from the BBC. It seems that finally - six years down the track - the BBC is starting to ask some of the awkward questions.

    A comparison of the build costs of the Olympic Stadium, Wembley and Emirates might also be instructive.

    Of course the Lea Valley site needed a lot of clean up work, but even with the cost of that subtracted the expenditure on the OS was astronomical.

    The question that I'd like to see put to Lord Coe and the ODA is why?

    It will make them feel uncomfortable, but the answer will be because they wished to build in the conversion costs from an 80k seat stadium to a 25k athletics only facility. The ongoing costs may be £1m a year, but the additional public funds squandered on Lord Coe's pipe-dream were of another magnitude.

    We all might also like to reflect on the cost to the public purse if a money-bags Premier League club had been brought on board from the first. Sure, West Ham may not have been able to put in more than £100m at the time, but Spurs are considering a £250m - £450m stadium investment. I wonder how much the ODA might have wrung from them towards the build costs? If they'd got the £250m Spurs are currently proposing the Stadium could have been designed with retractable seats and the public purse would be fatter by almost half what they actually spent.

    Last point, in the interest of famous BBC impartiality and balance can the corporation, when it refers to the athletics only option, please be sure to mention at every possible opportunity and in the emotive language it uses to describe Spurs' proposals, that this plan would involve tearing down the current Stadium, razing the super-structure to the ground, destroying the iconic sky-line East Londoners thought they'd bought etc etc...

  • Comment number 21.

    It is apparent that the planning stage of this major project has been a disaster without adequate thought about a realistic legacy for the stadium. Additionally, once football became a part of the scenario, it was certain to also be a money driven project.

    UK needs a national athletic stadium, but not a 60,000 white elephant, and the Tottenham proposal of re-development of Crystal Palace is great for the minority part of the country who live south of the Thames, a similar problem that the Millennium Dome also suffered from.

    In considering the Olympic Stadium as a football stadium, does this not go against the rules of the FA/Football League that a new stadium should not be within the catchment area of an already established club, in this case Leyton Orient? But I'm sure the establishment have already found a way around this to ensure those involved will make their anticipated profits.

    The stadium should have been developed as a multi-sport facility, an athletics stadium with perhaps a 30,000 capacity and as a lower league football club such as the Orient, plus facilities for concerts etc.

    We are rapidily approaching a major decision that will have long term repercussions for the credibility of the UK as an international athletics venue, but I'm sure there will a lot of money made by those with vested interests in pushing this project towards the disaster it looks like being.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm fine with it being an athletics stadium only. Surely the challenge should be to make athletics big enough in this country to be worthy of such a facility.

    I state here and now I am a football polar bear, and bearsonally don't go in for watching athletics much, but surely this isn't about just me. Football has the run of the chicken coop generally, vastly more TV and radio coverage, huge support base. We have two large newish soccer venues, with Wembley and the Millennium Stadium. Think of all the football grounds already in London! The area where the Olympic Stadium has been built has had waste and derelict ground around it for years. These two premiership clubs could of built a stadium there whenever they wanted, and as far as I am aware there still is lots of waste land nearby in that part of East London, so they probably still could.

    Something else is going on here, not sure what, but something smells fishy.

  • Comment number 23.

    Simple answer. The organisers never factored in Premier League football into their bid for the Olympics and hence the legacy plans never factored in any Premier League football. What's so hard to understand about this.

    If the organisers had factored this in they should have consulted with the chosen club long before the Olympic bid had ever been made - so that the legacy plans were completely transparent AND immutable to the International Olympic Committee.

    If anything - the IOC should force the OPLC to honour their original plan - however vague that might of been.

  • Comment number 24.

    Vizzo, #18

    Spurs' original (and preferred) intention was always to develop their own site at WHL, but as time has gone on it has become clear that numerous logistical and financial hurdles are in the way of that (mostly down to the council, fro mwhat I can gather). They are now exploring this alternative option and the closer it gets, the better it is for the club financially, and therefore the more viable.

    It is only recently that all this has become apparent, hence their late introduction to the proceedings

  • Comment number 25.

    18. At 2:39pm on 03 Feb 2011, vizzo wrote:
    Short term thinking by Jowett and Livingstone.

    If Spurs are so keen, why didn't they express that in 2006/7.

    They've come to the party too late!


    Complain about this comment

    --------------------------------------

    Spurs came into it late as they were looking into redevloping WHL. After spending millions on plans, when applying for planning permission they were denied by the council (who wanted Spurs to redevelop parts of the area and transport links) and English heritage (apparently there are some essential buildings that must be maintained according to them), so the plans had to be re-written. Again this cost lots of money to do, but then it was anticipated it would cost Spurs £450million. Then it transpired that the Olympic venue had no sustainable legacy, and as such Spurs came up with a plan to convert that, re-build Crystal Palace for the athletics legacy and in doing so would save themselves £200million

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent blog. Shows what a short-sighted bunch of idiots the athletics people (and the politicians) were.

    It also shows how enthusiastic West Ham REALLY are about an athletics legacy and keeping the running track. They're not bothered about athletics, they just want the land.

    What the piece doesn't mention however is that Spurs were also in preliminary discussions around 2006 but didn't want the track so didn't take it any further.

  • Comment number 27.

    The key for Jowell and Lingstone in 2006 was getting the stadium built on time, that I think we would all agree was the priority. The stadium legacy should have been planned in the bidding stage ... rather than imposing a tight timeframe on West Ham to come up with a plan on behalf of the bid comittee after the bid was already won.

    Athletics cannot support a stadium that size, it does not generate enough interest outside the major tournaments. That was known before the bid was submitted and legacy promise made. The additional cost of subsidising an empty athletics stadium should already have been budgetted for.

    I don't know what all the fuss is about anyhow ... a tattered and empty stadium would be a fitting legacy for the 2012 London games.

  • Comment number 28.

    Thanks for clarifying some issues there Mr Bond.

    If the general consensus of posters here can see the incompetence in managing this project....how in hell did so-called specialist consultants create such a mess??

  • Comment number 29.

    This is not the only mess up by the ODA but certainly is the most high-profile.

    It seems the planners were sacrosanct in the process, once the plans for the whole Olympic park were drawn up they appear to have been written in stone.

    Other disasterous and avoidable mistakes by the ODA

    Relocating the Manor Gardens Allotments purely so that a footpath can be built and they didn't clutter up the landscaping.

    Demolishing a housing estate only 30 years old and relocating most of the tenants with no relocation strategy, to usually more expensive and often worse quality housing. Then spending £90m to clear the site just for more parkland landscaping. The rebuild cost of the whole Clays lane Estate and the cost of the residents (if necessary for security purposes) being sent to the bahamas for a month would have easily been less than a quarter of that.

    Evicting several businesses from the Olympic Parks site that then had to close down as no suitable site could be found anywhere in London. Another company had to relocate to Middlesborough as no suitable site could be found closer to it's current Location.

    The whole thing smacks of poor planning, even poorer support for the businesses and people affected and all for in two cases merely cosmetic landscaping and in the cases of the businesses proper support and help.

    So the fact that noone had the sense to sit down and wonder what to do with the Olympics Stadium after the games comes as no surprise.

    More detail on this and other interesting facts can be found at http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk/

  • Comment number 30.

    David - good blog. You've copped a bit on these boards in recent times, so fair dos.

    @28 - to be crystal clear, it wasn't the consultants who created the mess - rather they were left to deal with a rather unfortunate situation (I know, because I was there).

    What is being missed here is that the football-tenant option was very strongly opposed, due to precisely the reasons highlighted above - public money to fund PL club etc. Clearly, in pure financial terms, this would have been an 'easy win'. But, we didn't say this in the Bid - we said it was going to be used for athletics, and that's part of the reason we won the Games in the first place. We all knew that an athletics-only venue was going to struggle significantly.

  • Comment number 31.

    #28 Public contractors can be so regularly incompetent because public spending is made not on the basis of performance but connections, whether it's IT, consultancy, care homes, infrastructure, or local authorities. If you want a good headache and a sense of bursting incredulity, just read your latest copy of Private Eye.

  • Comment number 32.

    28. At 2:54pm on 03 Feb 2011, ComeEnglandAway wrote:
    Thanks for clarifying some issues there Mr Bond.

    If the general consensus of posters here can see the incompetence in managing this project....how in hell did so-called specialist consultants create such a mess??
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I will argue that this is not the mess of 'so-called specialist consultants', its the mess and legacy of labour politicians with Ken Livingstone & Tessa Jowel at the helm of affairs. Both had no longterm thinking, mostly wining & dinning with the bankers, with our lottery money,while getting Lord Coe muddled up in their mess

    Also, shouldn't we considered Robert Preston's blog posting: "Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?" This is quite an interesting read

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2011/02/why_dont_brits_rule_the_corpor.html

  • Comment number 33.

    Superb blog again David.

    The Olympic Stadium fiasco provides the perfect epitaph for the early 2000s:

    Planned by people with no foresight beyond their own immediate popularity, built with money that wasn't really affordable, a legacy that will be an expensive millstone for the whole country to carry for decades to come....

  • Comment number 34.

    Pretty ironic that the PL option was shunned when so many people in Govt cosy up to the FA & Football Stars when it suits them for PR. Blair with Beckham springs to mind.

    Also the narrow view that the Olmpics had to be a London only event, this has distanced so many people both in terms of focus & finances.

    What about the redevelopment of Crystal Palace at least there was history there. Trampling all over the East end and not keeping promises to the locals (marathon etc) and relocating businesses.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's clear that the concensus of this blog is the politicians and Olympic Committee got it very wrong from the start, and now it would seem too late to bring the project back to a common sense solution.

    If the Spurs option is chosen, then the Olympic legacy has delivered a national venue the wrong side of the Thames for 95% of the population with a stadium OK for national events and smaller international competitions, but not suitable for even the Athletics World Championships. Some legacy.



  • Comment number 36.

    I am fed up with how much football defines this country's sporting vision. Athletics was massive twenty years ago and can be again. I think it should stay as an athletics stadium with a possible winter sport such as rugby union sharing the ground, but certainly not become just another football stadium. The ODA should hold firm on their proposal to the IOC and make sure that there is a legacy for athletics in this country. Yes, a lucrative football deal might be attractive in the short-term but for this country to have any international credibility then keeping promises that swayed the vote away from Paris is a moral imperative.

    Athletics needs to put its case forward to the youth of today. London 2012 will be a chance to do that. The ODA have to show their commitment too by making sure that there is a future for athletics in this country.

  • Comment number 37.

    Total farce from start to finish. Personally I couldn't care less whether it goes to an EPL club or to athletics, although I do subscribe to the view that there probably isn't sufficient demand for an athletics track. If there is then why has Crystal Palace fallen into such disrepair?

    One for the conspiracy theorists - does anyone else find it suspect that, during the last round of discussion regarding the OS in mid January, the mayor announced the commissioning of the Katarina Fisch Hahn/Cock as the Trafalgar Square fourth plinth artwork for 2013? Looks remarkably similar to the Tottenham Hotspur woodcock emblem to me...

  • Comment number 38.

    @19 Leasing IS a long term plan and will provide a return on investment over time.

    You suggest 20 years is a long time but in taxpayer terms it's a drop in the ocean. We took 50 years to pay off our World War II debt to the Americans and PFI contracts of 25 years are the norm.

    When the lease runs out, whether you've made your money back or not, you still have a public owned asset that can either be re-leased or sold.

    As for who'd want it, well West Ham seem pretty keen to move in so I'm sure they'd be interested in leasing it then letting it out to other sports teams when they aren't using it (something most London based football clubs do). They probably wouldn't want it in its current state but there's no reason why we can't modify it first then lease it at a higher rate (as it's a more attractive product)

    By the way the City of Manchester Stadium is leased and I do believe Manchester City Council do quite well out of it.

  • Comment number 39.

    While the usual hair-tearing inadequacies of the British don't surprise me I don't understand why people worry about our 'international standing' anyway. Even if they don't like us for it what are they going to do - not give us the Olympics in another 50 years time - so what. FIFA, IOC, are hardly coming from the moral high ground. The only way I'm happy to see a Athletics only solution is if the IOC pay for it - pigs fed and ready for take off!

    Let some other Mug nation pay to put on the Olympics - what's important now is that 90% of the population who will never go near or see the Olympic Stadium other than on TV don't end up paying for it.

    In short what should have been planned is a proper Multi-use venue. The moment that a permanent running track without retractable seats was planned the venue was never going to be Multi-use - football or otherwise.

  • Comment number 40.

    Serious question: who genuinely believes in the athletics legacy that's being talked about?

    There is nothing of any interest to us here in the west coast of scotland 9we even got overlooked for the mountain biking despite being a world renowned venue for the world/european cups)

    This is simply another London centric prestige piece that removes desperately needed money from the UK to serve, well, who exactly?

  • Comment number 41.

    The reason it wasn't built to accommodate football is because it was not, is not and should not be a football stadium.

    The dominance of sport in this country by football is outrageous. Especially given all the sports it sets the worst examples in terms of money-grabbing and behaviour.

    The Olympic stadium needs to remain as Athletics primarily but actually multi-use. The Park as a whole could host all sorts of major events. This is not a Wembley it is a Millenium Dome. The Dome became white elephant before finally becoming what is should always have been i.e. a Multi-use arena. The O2 is now a real asset in London.

    Many of the events held at Wembley which destroy the pitch could be held at the Olympic stadium because you don't need a perfect surface when you are throwing 7.26kg Hammers into it! Concerts, Race of legends (motor racing), American Football matches, International tournaments in anything from Lacrosse to Modern Pentathlon. Can all be held at this stadium.

    Also as others have said the public via taz money AND lottery money have built this stadium. We do not hand all that over to a football club (which is a business anyway) and say there you go.

    In terms of pure Athletics usage, the only main annual event would be the Grand Prix (London is a big one over two days and sells out in the under-capacity Crystal Palace). However we would get a World champs when we asked for it. We would definitely get a European Champs the moment we even thought it aloud. There is also the European team champs. We will get big events back there amd we need to. This should be THE Multi-sports venue for EVERYTHING EXCEPT FOOTBALL. They have Wembley. Tottenham can move there, at least it is North London.

    So the original idea WASN'T wrong. However we need to get a company in place to run the venue as a multi-sports venue and do it now.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think as others have stated earlier that the whole bidding process was very short sighted, had people with rose tinted glasses and were also incompetent.

    How anybody, even the most devoted athletics fan could think that a 80,000 seater stadium even if it was reduced to 25,00 would make money. They would also need a larger stadium though to hold world or european events there.

    I thought I read that whoever gets the stadium will only have a leasehold and not the freehold of the property anyway.

    As for both bids. I prefer the West Ham bid as they are closer to the stadium already and would only be moving a mile or two down the road. The Tottenam bid would be totally unacceptable to me as why would we build a £500 million stadium for no more than 2 months. They should stay where they are and regenerate their area even if it costs money just like Arsenal did with their area as it's still going on. Also why should a billionaire non-dom get any help from tax payers to get a new stadium.

  • Comment number 43.

    PaulA2012

    I'm no football fan BUT the reality is having spend £500m everyone's hard-earned on this thing I'd like to think that we'd get some of it back: from who I don't care!

    As you correctly say Wembley is a terrible multi-use venue. But it has to be because it cost too much money - spot the theme.

    O2 - sorry but mentioning it doesn't help your cause as it's them who're backing the Spurs bid.

    I can tell you don't like football but to pretend that the handful of athletics events you mention can pay for the Stadium just doesn't stack up.

    The original idea was wrong - not because it didn't think football - because it did n't think multi-use in terms of being a venue with retractable/temporary seating to cover the running track. This would have enabled all those other sports, or which I believe there are many, that don't require a 400m oval rubberised surface.

    Sorry I sympathise but - I want my money back!!


    PS:- On the moral high ground with Football, not sure that's really a good idea considering the numerous doping scandals?

  • Comment number 44.

    Your blog has certainly stirred up plenty of politically-motivated tosh. Hindsight is a wonderful thing - and undoubtedly some mistakes have been made. BUT the previous team running the Olympic preparations was RIGHT to concentrate on having a proper project plan which ensured that the facilities were completed well in advance of the Games. Apart from needing to test them, there are also major security considerations that can only be worked out when the site is up and running. These things can't be done at the last moment. From your blog it's pretty clear that people took their decisions in the light of what they knew AT THAT TIME and I challenge the various critics to have done better in view of what was known then. And please stop telling me that if it had been done by the private sector it would have been better. Doesn't BP and the GULF and WHY that GENUINE disaster accurred not make you realise that the private sector are no better at running major projects? It's just generally, they are better at covering their disasters up, while in the UK we like to wallow in every public sector difficulty we can. BESIDES it isn't a disaster. The West Ham proposal makes it work. FINALLY, it couldn't have been done by the private sector because of rules set down by the IOC.

  • Comment number 45.

    Why do we keep getting ourselves into this mess. There will never be a legacy in the UK. Has anyone watched athletics meetings other than the Olympic and Commonwealth games. We don't need a huge stadium. All we need is a local hall or community centre with a running track and seating for 50-100 people.
    Surely creating an Athletics only facility at Crystal Palace is a much better answer.
    There was a survey a couple of weeks ago and the majority questioned said the stadium should go to West Ham as they would keep the running track. However, the stadium would only be available 20days per year which as far as I can see is not much of a legacy.

    Why don't the Government keep their noses away from sport and concentrate on getting the country out of the worst financial situation for most people since rationing.

  • Comment number 46.

    The answer is easy -- tunnel vision -- someone said olympics, olympic stadium and that was it. I Don't think the people planning had any other idea than to get an olympic stadium up quickly although they no
    doubt thought at the time that it would be something left for the future. Of course once the thing was up then the two football clubs were the only likely commercially sensible tenants. I Don't think any of the stadiia of the recent olympic games have survived as an athletics venue, other than Beijing (which is said to be used sporadically). You don't make money out of staging the Olympic games surely, which we of course are now finding out.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hallejullah! I thought it would never happen.
    There have been loads of comments on previous threads suggesting that Spurs' plans essentially wasted £500mln of taxpayers money. Rubbish.
    Karren Brady stated that it was the equivalent of building 100 schools and then knocking them down. Nonsense.
    The only people wasting taxpayers money were those bodies in charge of securing and planning (and I use the word 'planning' in it's loosest sense), the Olympic Games.
    No proper forethought, no grasp on the realities of marketing and using the stadium and little or no thought to the waste of money. Why should they? It's not like they're going to foot the bill.
    These people have walked away scott free as the spotlight has turned on West Ham and Spurs.
    Now, as we reach decison time we have people complaining about rich football clubs benefitting from a publicly funded project. The truth is football clubs and their supporters, for all their faults, pay the bills with their own hard earned cash. Wherever the money may go - huge salaries, stadiums etc., we the fans and the clubs pay their own way.
    Most of the other sports involved in the Games and their fans (especially athletics)either cannot or will not put their hands in their pockets to finance their chosen sport. They are the ones getting a free ride on public funds and it should be people who started this process without the skill or the vision to see it through properly that should be held to account.

  • Comment number 48.

    It seems strange that no other sporting club has registered an interest such as one of the London Rugby Clubs, perhaps they could keep the track and not have to demolish the ground and rebuild. Incidently the Spanish held the European Athletic championships in their old Olympic arena and made a profit, and several years down the road London could hold other major championships such as the Commonwealth games etc. If other venues such as the velodrome and swimming pool are going to stay then why not try to get a club willing to keep the track. Also the stadium could host concerts in the summer.
    Alternatively could try and get American football introduced here as the games played at Wembley seemed to be popular. The London Monarchs may want a new ground and would probably be willing to keep the track if they didn't need to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds to buy the venue.
    It just seems a shame that the politicians are rushing the process when effectively they could easily take their time on getting a new use for the venue once the Olympics are over.

  • Comment number 49.

    PaulA2012 - I totally agree with your suggestions for it to be multi-use. There is so much demand in this country for a wide range of events that this would easily help to make the stadium viable when it wasn't being used for athletics. The O2 is a good example, because the turn-around there has been extraordinary from the Millenium Dome. I personally do not like it as an entertainment venue, and I know others who feel similarly about the acoustics of the place but it's success is undeniable. People will flock to a former Olympic stadium, because of its historical links, especially if the Games go well so many events will do well there. The transport infrastructure will also make it a very attractive location.

  • Comment number 50.

    @44. You should read some of the conclusions about the BP disaster before mentioning it as they were only a part of the problem. Don't forget Hallyburton was a big player and at as much fault but then they do have presidents and ex-presidents on their board to get large contracts. Still most of the private sector would have done a better job than the public sector.

  • Comment number 51.

    We do seem to be very short sighted in this country. This whole thing is a fiasco, reminding me of;
    1) The Millenium Dome. How much did that cost the UK taxpayer, and how much are the private company that run it (as the O2 arena) now making on it? Could the UK Government not have kept it as an asset and started to make some of the money back gradually (while still keeping it as a saleable asset should a large cash injection be needed)?
    2) Wembley. That project was such a disaster in terms of cost and delays it isn't worth thinking about. Then when it was finally built it became apparant that the design neglected to factor in the rather important point that this was a football stadium, and did not allow sufficient sun and wind to reach the pitch - hence we have a poor playing surface at our national stadium, which costs millions a year to regularly patch up.

    From what I know the Millennium Stadium project was generally a huge success, and the City of Manchester and Emirates stadia also seem to be, so it can be done!

  • Comment number 52.

    What really makes me laugh is the

    "Keep it athletics and run it like the O2"

    Anyone looked who's stumping up the money for the Spurs proposal - Yup the American owners of the O2!

    What infuriates me is that if it had been planned as a Multi-use venue it would have included retractable seats over the running track - then it would not have mattered who was moving in. Tottenham want rid of the track because they know they can't/won't keep it. West Ham have offered to keep the track to paper over the other deficiencies in their plans.

    The sums of money involved in the future running of the Olympic Stadium means that a bits and pieces solution will not work.

    Anyway as I live miles away and hate athletics and football I don't care - I just want the country to have it's £500 million back to spend on hospitals.

  • Comment number 53.

    There is no doubt that if it is to become self-sufficient it will need to be a multi-purpose venue, as Wembley is these days. In fact, Wembley gets more use out of being a concert venue than it does out of being a sporting venue, which is why the design does not allow the pitch to settle correctly.

    I read somewhere that one of the options the IOC has is to own a temporary "portable" stadium so that it can hold the Olympics and not leave the host cities with the enormous cost of building suitable arenas. This is a better solution than having each country build Olympic Stadia that then go on to become follies. The Olympic Stadium in Munich used to be used by Bayern, but the running track kept fans too far away from the action and so Bayern built their own custom-designed stadium which is now one of the world's best stadia.

    The shape and size of the Olympic Stadium here suggests to me that it would make an ideal first-class cricket venue - perhaps hosting Twenty20 games at first, then maybe one-day cricket as well. Then we can keep Lord's and The Oval for test cricket, or maybe use it as a Test location for the Ashes. The Tottenham bid can't be allowed, otherwise we might as well just have frittered the cost of building the stadium on free scooters for kittens.

    West Ham's bid remains the only viable option as it stands, but once they own the stadium, will they be contractually obliged to keep the running track, or will they commission a redesign as well afterwards?

    All options are poor as it stands, so the ODA will have to go with the least poor of the options. Perhaps a private company should be brought in to administer the running of the stadium after the Games, rather than letting it be ruled by a Premier League football club.

    And in future, we should learn from this and never bid for a major athletics event again unless we can properly plan ahead. The plans for this stadium post-Olympics should have been set in stone before building was started.

  • Comment number 54.

    Halfwheeler - not only Football v Athletics Spurs v West Ham now you introduce the North v South. If I remember rightly Birmingham and Manchester both tried and failed to secure the Olympics so that is why it is being built in London!
    Also I do not think all of the venues can be dismissed as bad quite so easily! I used to do a bit of work in that area and on a recent visit the site looks quite impressive and a most definite improvement on what went before, so all of the money is not wasted as considerable sums related to ground preparations and decontamination.

    Crafty 13 then tries to make a point about our short sightedness quoting two negatives to support the position (one of those, Wembley was built with FA Money rather than Tax Payers!) But also mentions 3 positives - the Emirates and City of Manchester were indeed succesful but the Millenium Stadium owed a little to the Shareholders of John Laing Construction who inadvertently subsidised the stadium with an unfortunate tender price!! The Positives outweigh the negatives so maybe we are not that short sighted after all!

  • Comment number 55.

    Typical British management! Wembley could have been the Olympic stadium if they had planned properly by installing moverable seating and floating pitch. Look at the Millenium Stadium considerably cheaper than both stadiums (abliet the Olympic has been built a lot later) but able to be used for various events - and the picth is no worse than the home of football. You can also look to the States and see far better stadium design to get multiple use out of stadiums.
    We as the tax payer have again been robbed by a government and civil service full of cronies who look after each other - look at how much the Chair and Cheif Exec of the Olympic Delivery company earn!. Lets get rid of their wage and use that to keep a few libaries open.

  • Comment number 56.

    Why is the "Legacy" centred on London ? Most of the people who participate in all kinds of Sport are used to traveling.

    It is a pity that when Wembley was chosen as the site for the new National Stadium, any plans for Athletics were instantly dismissed. This would have negated the need for a new Stadium for the Olympics, thus saving umpteen quid. During it's days, the old Wembley had a Dog Track, about which nobody complained, and it was never seen as detrimental to the overall "atmosphere" in the Stadium.

    Sheffield built the Don Valley Stadium for Athletics - for the 1991 Universiade - and it is more popular than Crystal Palace for such events and many others besides.

    Ignore Spurs & WHU altogether... reconfigure the Olympic White Elephant to suit athletics as promised, and see what effect the Legacy actually has. Kids queueing up to become Athletes ? Or is one of the Fast Food Pods called "The Legacy Kebab Shop" Hmmmm ?

  • Comment number 57.

    It was built as an Athletics Stadium and it should remain as one. The whole point of going to the expense of holding the Olympic Games is for the investment and legacy. If after the Olympics the stadium is not used for athletics or worse still knocked down, then what was the point in hosting the games at all?
    The big premier league clubs do not need any favours or public money to help them build a stadium so I say tell Spurs & West Ham to look elsewhere and let the legacy of the Olympic Games be a state of the art Athletics Stadium for all the UK's athletes to use for the next few decades.

  • Comment number 58.

    There is a simple solution to this athletics v football row. Let Spurs knock down the stadium and rebuild it for football as they want. Instead of revamping Crystal Palace, they can build an athletics stadium on the Olympic park. Where? there's a 15,000 seater Olympic hockey stadium being built in the park on the site of the old Hackney dog track. After the Olympics it's being knocked down. It's such an obvious solution, - football, athletics and a legacy all taken care of - but I'm sure someone has an objection.. probably Clapton Orient.

  • Comment number 59.

    @22, it is up to athletics to become appealing to people, it has failed to support itself and attract investment and interest from the wider population. football could not be criticised for this. the fact is football is the main sport in this country, and if football is what's required to stop it from simply being a source of anger, frustration ad wasted public money 15 years down the line then that's what has to be done.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    People have to realise the neither the IOC or FIFA have any interest in legacy, their sole interest is in the short term glory of their event, legacy should be the concern of those who will have to fund the facilities far into the future. I was at the Birds Nest last year and it was frankly in a sad state, barely used and dilapidated already. If a Premier league club does not takes over the London 2012 stadium what will become of it? A poorly attended athletics event every couple of years, the odd concert, who will bear the costs? London doesn't need another stadium, it already boasts Wembley, Twickenham and the Emirates, add to this that given the way that major events are likely to be awarded in the future (new territories, new money) is there any likelihood of the stadium ever being used to capacity again? Give it to Spurs and develop Crystal Palace, the best and most cost effective solution surely?

  • Comment number 62.

    What is amazing about Britain is that whatever we do, we love to criticise ourselves. Everyone is going on about how badly the planning process was and not taking PL clubs into account. It seems they did but they weren't interested at the time. If you take a look back at the debacle of Athens can we really question the intentions of the planning committee. What would everyone be saying now if the construction was late? We would be slaughtering them. But actually, they have done a damn good job.

    Of course there is the cost issue and getting value from the legacy. But this is the Olympics and it costs. Before London, every olympics were getting more elaborate and expensive than the last and it almost seemed a prerequisit to get them. So in light of that, the London team have done a good job and although the cost is high at least they realised that we could never compete with Beijing and brought in some sense of level headedness. We can go over and over the debate of what it cost, will it be worth it and the issue of an expensive stadium with little use after the games. But it is trying to address this issue and do the right thing that is causing this argument. Most countries don't worry about it. They either keep it as athletics or a football club or whatever moves in to the stadium as it is. We beat ourselves up trying to please all and do politically the right thing. On the other end of the scale look at the Qatar world cup situation. Lord knows how many new stadiums will all be dismantled after the world cup.

    We wanted the Olympics. There was no great public objection. We know they are going to cost and we would have to do something with a big stadium which had little use. This was never going to happen for free.

    One thing I would point out though is how many 80,000+ seater national stadiums do we need in London (Plus the many other football grounds and various arenas)? This is a more fundamental point. Why do we need one for running, one for football and one for Rugby? Its funny the media simply skip past this issue (probably because they can't blame just one party and that gets a bit complicated for them). This in my view is the fundamental question. 3 huge stadiums in one city lying empty for most of the time costing around £2bn to build. Why when they started all the stadium re-developments did they not get their heads together and say we need a new rugby stadium, wembley is getting old, oh and by the way, we have no major athletics venue in the country. Lets club in together and build one which suits all needs. On the odd occasion where there is an event conflict, there are still plenty of other big stadiums around the country. Had that been done, we wouldn't be talking about this. We know the reason, It's the old boys club mentality. For me this is the bigger issue.

  • Comment number 63.

    I do feel for Leyton Orient as they are going to suffer if a Prem League team gets the stadium.

    However, assuming one does I see it like this:

    Spurs: Wrong club, right plan

    West Ham: Right club, wrong plan.

    Spurs are not an East London club but have the best plan, redeveloping Crystal Palace is a great idea, we don't need two major Athletic Stadiums in London.

    West Hams plan to keep the Athletic tack is mad, it will kill the atmosphere.

  • Comment number 64.

    "I think it's symptomatic of how Premiership football has taken over the country that people are asking why an athletics stadium was NOT built as a freebie for either of the biggest sporting clubs in the land."

    These sort of comments crack me up, yes it is symptomatic of the popularity of football that only teams in that sport can adequatly reimburse the tax payer for use of the land. This is bad because the public should get not what it wants but what you want. So what if we couldn't fill Crystal Palace to watch Usain Bolt, now we should have two such stadiums not to fill so there! It's not a case of build it and they'll come, we've all ready built one and no one ever bothers to go.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think it is a load of nonsense all the fuss about getting rid of the running track because it doesn't give a good atmosphere for football.
    Football people need to go away, if they don't like it with a running track, well don't have it.
    France seems to manage perfectly well with the stade de France, they play football and Rugby there and I don't hear too many complaints, besides only 80,000 people are in the stadium, 10 million are watching at home and it looks just as good on the TV.
    The biggest mistake was not having a running track at the new Wembley, that should have been a proper national sports stadium (including athletics), then we would not have needed to build a seperate Olympic stadium. Perhaps Spurs or West ham should move to Wembley and we could keep the Olympic stadium for special events, (Cup finals, England matches, athletics)

  • Comment number 66.

    57. At 5:10pm on 03 Feb 2011, Mike Arms wrote:
    It was built as an Athletics Stadium and it should remain as one. The whole point of going to the expense of holding the Olympic Games is for the investment and legacy. If after the Olympics the stadium is not used for athletics or worse still knocked down, then what was the point in hosting the games at all?
    The big premier league clubs do not need any favours or public money to help them build a stadium so I say tell Spurs & West Ham to look elsewhere and let the legacy of the Olympic Games be a state of the art Athletics Stadium for all the UK's athletes to use for the next few decades.

    Three questions?

    1) How many athletic events a year will attract anything like the 25,000 it would take to fill the modified stadium?

    2) Will British athletics pay for the upkeep of the stadium? (up to £1,000,000 per year)

    3) If not, who will? good money after bad!

  • Comment number 67.

    What really amazes me is the support for the football clubs. Your talking about multi million pound businesses.

    Although I found this particular article on the boring side I find the debate about the Olympic Stadium quite ludicrous. Obviously it was going to be "rushed" but if I was given a choice I would sooner have it rushed and on budget than years and years late and over budget. Don't forget that West Ham were in a very precarious position when the Iceland banks collapsed at the begging of the global recession. I digress

    Football clubs have spent nearly half of what this stadium costs on players alone in the winter transfer period. Why on earth should it go to a PL team.

    Yea it could be moved to CP but this is our new legacy not an old one. US English are all to quick to support tradition and the past (none of which exists in EPL) by using CP as an example of our Athletics legacy. Which I think is nonsense. Some of us want to move on.

    We won the 2012 Olympic was won on the merit of giving something back to a younger generation. People who are probably too young to even want to debate about this stadium.

    Let it be an Athletics track it can have all the stuff we don't want or need at Wembly. Such as rock bands and the many other events they host there. Let it become a place where our own competitors can train and practice against each other. EG Common Wealth or even grass roots sport. I bet it would fill out if it had a youth athletics tournament for all the counties schools and then going nation wide.

    Many things can be done with it and maybe we will see more people having more respect for people in other sports other than football.

    If it does go to a football club especially an EPL club then the club and the stadium should work together to promote their great stadium. It could be good for both the legacy and football club. But running track is essential. How hard can it be to put seats in on the track.

    People talk about it being a complete waste of money but it wasn't that expensive in comparison to say Torres
    I hope that everything works out in a good way for everyone and that the stadium does not end up a white elephant.

  • Comment number 68.

    Nice article, however it doesn't really address the serious greed that lies behind all of this, although I can't blame you, you can only report the excuses given really. To say they were worried a redesign would take too long and the stadium wouldn't be finished is a codswallop excuse though. Just look at the short time it took to build stadiums in South Africa, it was all last minute.

    I'm sure that they knew from the start the only solution would be to use it for more than just athletics. They knew a retractable seating situation would be ideal for the design. They knew all of this and when it was proposed by West Ham, they made up excuses about already having designs in place.

    What they were really thinking was, when all this is over, someone is going to have to fork out more money to adapt it, and that means more profit for the owners. Its all about maximising revenue, not for the tax payer, not for the football club, but for the pockets of the filthy rich few who sit on top of us all. It happens in all walks of life and we are fed excuse after excuse, yet buy it everytime.

    The system is a shambles.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm a football fan, but I think it is wrong that football is dominating the discussion of what to do with the stadium. It is the Olympic stadium, and the issue of legacy is a genuine one. I have no problem with it being used as a football sttadium - it would be a great use of the stadium - but the stadium must remain as a multi-purpose venue with a running track. If a football team does not want it, then don't use it!

    http://itsnotlifeordeath.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-athletics-legacy-matters.html (an article on the importance of retaining a legacy)

  • Comment number 70.

    In Brewster's Millions (good film!), £30m was overspent in 30 days

    Here, the powers that be seem to have overspent £300m in 300 days.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    @mf_thfc4ever

    "The only people wasting taxpayers money were those bodies in charge of securing and planning (and I use the word 'planning' in it's loosest sense), the Olympic Games.
    No proper forethought, no grasp on the realities of marketing and using the stadium and little or no thought to the waste of money."

    Not true. Having the Olympic games will make us money on the whole. If your an Economist you might persuade me otherwise. But my guess is your not.

    "Now, as we reach decison time we have people complaining about rich football clubs benefitting from a publicly funded project. The truth is football clubs and their supporters, for all their faults, pay the bills with their own hard earned cash. Wherever the money may go - huge salaries, stadiums etc., we the fans and the clubs pay their own way."

    Very true. You pay for it and quite rightly so. We complain because most of us can't afford to go matches anymore and end up in pubs or at home watching sky. You'll be pissed off if Spurs ever reach a CL final as most of the tickets will be given to the old boys at FIFA and then divided between the clubs but you will be lucky even if you get a ticket let alone afford one. I haven't even got on to the cost of policing and then the subsequent complaints of public transport letting supporters down. Who do you think subsidises that ?

    "Most of the other sports involved in the Games and their fans (especially athletics)either cannot or will not put their hands in their pockets to finance their chosen sport. They are the ones getting a free ride on public funds and it should be people who started this process without the skill or the vision to see it through properly that should be held to account."

    At least give it 5 years to decide that. I agree with what Bigphil says in that you don't need to sell it off now. It is actually the current government that are forcing the sale off now as they sell of the family jewels yet again.

    And what exactly are government funds for if they are not for subsidising things that cannot maybe make it on it's own. Such as trains, power stations, buses ect ect. I digress yet again.



  • Comment number 73.

    I will be shocked if anything other than Spurs getting the stadium on the cheap occurs.

    And that would be truly appalling.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    The absolutely key question on which all responses should be based is this:

    'Is the real cost of maintaining an athletics-only option £1m or £10m a year?'

    £1m a year is pissing in the wind. You host 5 top concerts there and you should generate that in profits easily. With a bit to spare.

    £10m a year's a bit different. Then you do need to come up with some other significant revenue streams to cover it.

    The amount of money this country wastes is phenomenal, yet it says £1m a year for a national athletics stadium to be proud of is too much?

    That's why I say this: is it £1m a year or a lot more?

    Perhaps the real figures, line by line, should be put out into the public arena so this posturing set of arguments can be settled based on real evaluation of real figures??

  • Comment number 76.

    I've read all the way through this blog and I still cannot believe the number of people whingeing about football clubs offering to take over the Olympic Stadium. Latest score just in:

    Football Clubs who have submitted a bid: 2
    Athletic Clubs who have submitted a bid: 0

    Where would we be left if neither Spurs nor West Ham were interested in the stadium post 2012? The ideal of having a legacy of primary athletics stadium was a nice thought but fatally and expensively unrealistic.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm not a fan of Tessa Jowell and have always felt the Olympics was an utter waste of money. However, on this point, I don't see what she and Ken Livingstone are really supposed to have done wrong. The stadium was a massive project, costing the best part of a billion pounds, the cost of the Olympics was starting to spiral out of control and by letting the timings slip the Government was in danger of facing a massive new bill. Jowell-bashers will recall that Greece went so massively over budget because they fell behind schedule and the contractors started holding them to ransom. Of course private contractors will do that, they're in it for the money and whatever the contracts say, against a tight timescale you're a hostage. Faced with a potential massive cost escalation and only vague interest from West Ham, unsurprisingly they went for the safer option.

    Interesting how people are lauding private companies for running things so well in comparison... These would be companies like West Ham, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Man Utd?? On the specific issue of this stadium, West Ham couldn't get their act together even when presented with a once-in-a-lifetime potential dream project and Spurs never even raised their heads until all the battles had been won by WHU. Everyone talks about how wonderful private sector stadia are and Arsenal's keeps getting mentioned. However, in football-only debates you often get people arguing that new stadia can become a millstone for a club, that's how effective the slick, private sector in the guise of football clubs can be! Having seen my own Club, Everton's, plans exposed as a complete farago during a planning enquiry, I don't personally have such faith in clubs.

    If you take on an unusual, multi billion pound capital project like the Olympics, you run the risk of stuff like this happening. It's more "one of those things" than a mistake by Jowell. The mistake was bidding for the Olymics in the first place, in the case of most Olympics the rest just follows...

  • Comment number 78.

    This was a really good blog. At last someone has reminded us what a blinkered bunch of idiots Lord Coe and the rest of the self serving athletics bunch. The politicians were even worse. Noses in the trough! This was a fiasco that is even greater than Wembley. At least the FA knew what to do with their stadium.
    Really, once we won the bid we should have brought in West Ham for a proper full and detailed consultation. In fact, I understand that both West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur held lengthy talks with the government who refused to badge from their insistence on having a running track. This at the time was an imperative. WHU and TH both pulled out. Rightly so and good for them.
    Just think about it ...a modern stadium with retractable seats and a track. What is the problem with that?
    The notion of an athletics stadium was always a non starter. But what we have been left with is a public project with public money being wasted on a site which will eventually be donated to a private company for a fraction of its true cost.
    West Ham will no doubt be given the site. Good luck to them and Good luck to their owners Messrs Gold and Sullivan. Men of impeccable principal and true morals. Both are amongst Britain’s richest men. Take a look at how they amassed their huge wealth. They will know how to make an even greater fortune from the Olympic gift. These two major shareholders are the true winners of all of this. Not WHU, not the West Ham fans. Just speak to them. They don’t want to leave their beloved Upton Park. But as we know the brand will in the end be sold and these top shelf guys will be in for another masssive windfall profit.

  • Comment number 79.

    I don't understand why part of the bid was this legacy nonsense unless of course the IOC insisted on it and so we blagged our way through. However, times change and what may have been a realistic commitment in 2005 is no longer realistic.

    It is completely and utterly pointless to have a stadium with an athletics track in it unless the stadium is dedicated solely to athletics. The sport is simply not popular enough in this country to justify it and the chances of Britain hosting the European or World Championships won't come along too often. Therefore we won't be missing out too much on anything, especially as there are other stadia in the country, eg Glasgow, which can host high profile events such as those.

    As long as we taxpayers don't end up having to foot a huge bill for the dubious privilege of hosting the Olympics I really don't care what happens with the Olympic Stadium after the games are over. Hopefully Spurs or West Ham will reimburse us with enough money so that we actually break even on the cost of the Olympic Stadium but I doubt it given the figures that are being banded about.

  • Comment number 80.

    I agree with bdyke04 #6. Any project which involves politicians such as Livingstone with great egos, disregard for public accountability and net public benefits and having no financial skin in the game, is likely to be a financial disaster. It has been well-demonstrated that the Olympics and other major sporting events involve significant net costs for the promoting country, which seem to be ignored in a circuses-not-bread mind-set.

    Sydney 2000 is widely regarded as one of the best and most financially viable Olympics. Economic modelling found that there was a short-term boost to the New South Wales state economy of perhaps 0.2%, offset by losses in other states as tourists flocked to NSW; and no long-term benefits, including from the Olympics-specific infrastructure.

    The evidence is clear to those bidding for the games; I'm not sure why they do it.

    The one Olympics I attended (as a schoolboy on a motorbike) was Rome 1960. At that time the event was still very focused on athletes and fans rather than being a tourism mega-event, self-funded from my paper round I was able to see two days of top athletics finals. A bid for a low-key, fan-friendly Olympics would never succeed now.

  • Comment number 81.

    Flawed concept, flawed project from Day One. Nations are proud of their olympic stadiums because thay are built as monuments for their nations to be used and admired as such for many generations. This pathetic project with its ugly, temporary constructions is nothing to be proud of. So the 2012 organizers deemed it unnecessary to go for a monument for the nation which, apparently from their point of view, does not deserve to have a permanent olympic stadium. So the whole thing degenerates into the current farce. Neither of the two football clubs should be given this stadium even though it is a failure as a project. Perhaps there is a chance that it can successfully be modified and converted into a monument for the nation. The best outcome would be for it to remain the property of the nation and not some football club. Does this country deserve to have its permanent olympic stadium or not? That is the question. So far, no vision, no pride, no enterprise.

  • Comment number 82.

    "These sort of comments crack me up, yes it is symptomatic of the popularity of football that only teams in that sport can adequatly reimburse the tax payer for use of the land. This is bad because the public should get not what it wants but what you want..."

    1. Wrong, if the will of the public is your concern, they totally disagree with you. They want an athletics stadium and don't want the football stadium. 70% agree it should remain athletic, 81% disagree with demolishing the athletics stadium and replacing it with a football stadium. 63% agree it would damage the legacy if athletics is ditched. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-12286340]

    2. The point is that huge amounts of public money will have gone towards subsidising a private football club which is amongst the least needy institutions in the country. This is unacceptable spending of the money. It's not some kind of national auction!

  • Comment number 83.

    Sydney is using their Olympic stadium for AFL, Rugby League and Union, soccer and even cricket. Of cause the stadium has retractable seating. It's too late for London to change that. I don't think London needs another supersize football stadium. If THFC want a new stadium why not moving to Wembley or even share the ground with Arsenal - groundsharing works in Milan.
    Neither EPL club should get it. After the Olympics, downgrade the stadium to 25,000 seats and give it to Orient and athletics.

  • Comment number 84.

    Athletics has neither the participation (2000 senior athletes in the UK across all events according to the Association of British Athletics Clubs) or the attracts crowds to make a stadium in central London pay.

    As far as the legacy goes, what the athletics needs is money to build from grass roots and a modest national stadium, not the Lord Coe I'm So Clever Arena.

    The stadium as it stand is ill-conceived and with the exception of 4 weeks in 2012, not fit for purpose. How the plans for a stadium that is designed for the Paralympics as well as the able bodied games were signed off with no toilets or other facilities inside the body of the stadium itself, is something I would love to hear the explanation for.

    In the present climate, only Premier League soccer can afford to take over such a stadium, whether it be West Ham, hard to reconcile with the running track around the pitch and the multi-use nature of their bid, or Tottenham's who will redevelop Crystal Palace, surely a realistic legacy? and tear down the majority of this white elephant.

  • Comment number 85.

    This whole thing is just a farce. As for Lord Coe banging on about how he made a promise to the international communtiy etc and that if we go back on it, it will harm are reputation. What a load of rubbish, just another example of Coe feeding his ego. Why not mention the other promises you made about sticking to budget/ enviromental issuses and other such promises you made to the IOC which you went back on, oh i forgot we're not suppose to mention these as it is not so good for your ego.

    Spurs is the only viable bid, and when it comes down to it, i would rather "lose face" to a few self important idividuals at the IOC then pay good tax money towards the up keep of an expensive white elephant.

  • Comment number 86.

    I cannot believe the arrogance of either this blog or a number of the responses on here.

    First up there was no "short sightedness" in the design of the stadium, quite the opposite in fact, it was built with a long term athletics/multi purpose use in mind.

    The blog actually asks why Premier League clubs were not considered when designing the stadium, maybe because IT WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE A PREMIER LEAGUE STADIUM!
    The entire point was that there was supposed to be an athletics legacy and maybe some ground sharing with a lower league football club (such as Leyton Orient who are only 2 miles away and will be crippled by West Ham's cheap tickets to kids but heck they aren't Premier League so who cares!).

    People saying it's a waste of tax payers money, sometimes tax payers money needs to be used to build things that otherwise could not be afforded by things like athletics and that sort of thing. No what would be a waste of money is to allow either Premier League club to come in and get a state of the art stadium paid for by the tax payer for a fraction of the cost it would have cost them to build it themselves.

    As someone who does not live in London (shock horror BBC we do exist despite your best efforts to ignore us) I have no problem with some of my tax going to build a national athletics centre, I would however have serious issues with my tax going to subsidise either Spurs or West Ham.

  • Comment number 87.

    Erm. The new standard football pitch (105 x 68m) doesn't fit inside a 400m track. End of story.

  • Comment number 88.

    The majority of comments here are very negative about the whole 2012 olympics and its organisation and so on. I think a lot of people are forgetting how this is the first big story to create a lot of debate since we won the right to host olympics in 2005. Surely that shows that until now everything has run extremely smoothly and the organisation appears to be ahead of schedule. I for one am proud that we are hosting the games and this issue will be resolved and as long as the stadium remains iconic and SOME SORT of athletics legacy remains then I think we should all be grateful for what an exciting and overwhelmingly positive thing the olympics is to Britain and to us.

  • Comment number 89.

    This all harks back to the decision not to develope Wemberly stadium as part of the bid, remember it was supose to have a combination of removeable seats for athletics and football events.

  • Comment number 90.

    IAMGERO wrote: 'Erm. The new standard football pitch (105 x 68m) doesn't fit inside a 400m track. End of story.'

    Yes it does. A pitch of this size can be accommodated but is tight which is why there will be an artificial grass surface around it similar to Chelsea. The level of the pitch will be slightly higher than the track, which is normal, so the artificial grass will sit flush. This will probably be the case if T20 cricket is allowed except instead of a run off area it will be the whole of the track plus jumps plus extended areas that will be covered.

  • Comment number 91.

    Nice blog, David. I remember the first few blogs you made on this site and thought at the time that they carried all the hallmarks of tabloid journalism. By contrast, I've found your recent efforts to be both interesting and written without resorting to sensationalism - exactly the kind of thing I want to read.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 92.

    Petty maybe, but I feel I must respond to Gingeryid (post 54, in response to my post 51);
    Including the Olympic stadium, there are 3 good and 3 bad examples, so positives don't outweigh the negatives. When such vast sums of money are spent, having such major issues on 50% is in my eyes pretty poor planning.
    If you also factor in the fact that the new Arsenal stadium was a private venture (with a large non-British influence), and the Millennium stadium being inadvertently subsidised by the contractor (which I didn't know), that figure becomes 3 out of 4 - so a 75% c*ck up rate! 2 of those mistakes have cost the British taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds, and the other cost the FA hundreds of millions of pounds (which could have been better spent in many other areas, such as grass roots football).

  • Comment number 93.

    It seems that with AEG involved with Spurs (entertainment company behind the O2), it's limiting other options for the Olympic committee and govt to choose from. I've always said that the best solution would be to make it a multi-use stadium which can host all the events that Wembley does which are non-football (i.e. concerts, NFL, Rugby events, Race events etc) and keep the running track, fulfil and olympic legacy and inspire others to take up sport and athletics.

    With Stratford's recent renovation and transport links it would be perfect for that, only two tube stops from the O2 also - this part of London will be amongst the best entertainment districts in the world especially in addition to the West End. I know Wembley is trying to make money too but it would save on the constant repairs to the playing surface and you have to expect this sort of thing when you decide to build three 80k+ stadiums for three different purposes in the same city, rather than just one or two.

    Ideal scenario: Olympic stadium remains, entertainment company take over and is used for a wide range of events all year round and keeps running track and thus olympic legacy and hosts regular athletics meetings. I'm against both football clubs moving there despite being a Spurs fan.

    But with AEG involved in Tottenham's bid, Levy is certainly gaining a lot of the power share ahead of this decision. I was wondering (perhaps in hope) that this could be a used a bargaining ploy with the government to reduce the club's cost of going ahead with the Northumberland Developement Plan by it gaining some governmentt backing. The question is whether AEG will be happy to take over without Spurs? What are your thoughts? It's tough decision anyway, but as a Spurs fan, it's even more frustrating. It's a major farce by the previous government in order to allow this situation to occur, but I must question the timing of this upcoming decision, why does it have to be made now? I think there's a better time to consider this.

    As a Spurs fan (and I think I speak on behalf of the majority of Spurs fans) we would like to stay in Tottenham and see the initial stadium plan go ahead, but obviously we don't want the club to be in major debt, so we want financial backing from the government/council to help the club improve the local area and transport links. The plan is an entire complex, not just a stadium and will create loads of jobs. Public funding was made for the Wembley and Emirates projects. I don't see why our club should have to risk crippling itself to go ahead with a project just because they are not allowed to move to somewhere it could afford (Stratford).

  • Comment number 94.

    History is littered with the litany of broken promises that cover every aspect of every life on the planet. It surprises me that people are still talking about "our standing" in world sport. It is a falacy to suggest that we are any more or less respected because of the decisions taken around what is at its very basis a financial issue. Can we afford another Millenium dome? Before AEG stepped in it was costing massively to maintain.

    The standing that people seem to so lovingly to hold dear meant that FIFA representatives felt it was ok to smile and lie to the face of our future king. The standing means that we having been or are a laughing stock in many spheres of sport.

    What other nation would have used an exploding bus as the visual metaphor to sell our coming games to the world in Beijing, with Boris as its front man?!?

    The point is Britain does make a mistake or two in the preparation for things but usually we end making good on those with a healthy dose of improvisation. Giving the stadium to a team who have had to loan money in a climate of cutting debt would be a mistake. But regenerating 3 areas of london in one swoop seems like a good idea? It does to me.

  • Comment number 95.

    In this country, many people can’t just accept that something can have value in itself. When hosting the Olympics is questioned, supporters always say “but look how important it will be in regenerating the area”. And when regeneration is questioned, people say “but we need to regenerate the area to host the Olympics”. Couldn’t we just regenerate London without having the Olympics? Or host the Olympics without regenerating? Why does one initiative always need a secondary reason?

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm not too sure what the fuss is about, if this proposal is saving spurs £2OO Million on their project at White Heart lane, why can they not spend some of the saving (circa £100M) to re-build the Olympic Stadium to include retractable seating, providing the track for athletics (save £35 million re-building Crystal Palace).
    Spurs will have the stadium they need at cost they can afford (much less than the £450 WHL), the country would have a national stadium for athletics.....everyone would be happy!!

    What makes no sense is watching football from behind a running track, WestHams attendance would dwindle, and any economics they think they have would evaporate. if they cannot fill their current stadium, getting an average of 33,000...where do they think the other 27,000 are going to come from. What happens when they drop a league.

  • Comment number 97.

    Load of fuss over nothing. In 10 years time everything will have sorted itself out and no-one will care. Another tabloid journalist on the BBC getting the great unwashed in a flap about something that doesn't have any bearing in their lives.

    Nobody has died for gods sake. Get some perspective.

  • Comment number 98.

    Don't think Karen Brady has a clue what shes talking about. I'm pretty sure it's not a "corporate crime" to bulldoze the olympic stadium if permission is given.

  • Comment number 99.

    Short-termism is a nasty evil vicious blight that is basically ruining the UK. Why does no one in power plan for the long-term anymore? The Victorians definitely did. Its the me-me-me now-now-now generation, and I'm getting slowly sick of it. The perfect example of this is someone like Livingstone. Did not listen to critics who sighted the White Elephant issue with Olympic Stadium. He repeated mistakes made by Heseltine over the Millennium Dome.

    How clever would it have been to look at the situation in 1994, just after Manchester lost to Sydney for the 2000 Olympics when it was obvious that Wembley needed updating, the Millennium was just around the corner, and that London would probably be the only British city able to successfully bid for the Olympic Games. The solution surely lay in 1 enourmous (100,000+ seater) multi-use domed arena. Similar in nature to the Cowboys Stadium which has just held the Superbowl, but with room for Running Track, and movable seating, so that the oh-so-precious FA can have their seats right on the touchline.

    This plan would have killed 3 birds with 1 stone and saved in excess of £5Billion, and would have solved the legacy issue. This was not done, because the people in power never see the big picture anymore :-(

  • Comment number 100.

    How exactly did Lord Coe make the promise about the olympic lagacy in the Queen's name? And did he not also promise it would cost "just" £3 billion?

    Let's face it, the OS constitues a temporary structure of two top tiers which were due to be removed, regardless of the new tennant. Hence there are no toilet facilities or other ammenities up there. Does removal of the top two tiers constitute a corporate crime? If so, let's charge Lord Coe for that as well as the broken promise regarding costs.

    Really think that Ms. Brady should be concentrating on her own bid's strengths rather than knocking others'.

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.