London 2012: West Ham Olympic Stadium deal collapses

 
The London 2012 Olympic stadium and Arcelor Mittal Orbit sculpture The Olympic Park will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2013

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The deal to award West Ham the Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games has collapsed, the government has confirmed.

The board of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has ended negotiations amid concerns over delays caused by the legal dispute with Tottenham.

The OPLC, government and mayor of London have instead agreed the stadium will remain in public ownership.

West Ham welcomed the move and said it would bid to be the stadium tenant.

The OPLC has been asked to start a new process to secure tenants for the stadium and any interested bidders will have to submit proposals by January.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said the government was committed to securing a legacy from the Olympic Stadium, which it wants reopening in 2014.

"The process to sell the stadium has become bogged down. We are acting today to end the legal paralysis that has put that legacy at risk.

'Not a white elephant'

"Ending the current sale process and looking for a leasehold solution will remove the current uncertainty and allows us to help secure the future use of the stadium with more confidence," he said.

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

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said the decision had been made to bring ''certainty to the process''

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

A fund of £35m has been set aside from public money to convert the 80,000-capacity stadium at Games time to a 60,000-seater venue afterwards.

West Ham United and Newham council said in a joint statement: "Our bid is the only one that will secure the sporting and community legacy promise of the Olympic Stadium - an amazing year-round home for football, athletics and community events of which the nation could be proud."

Both Tottenham and Leyton Orient launched a legal challenge against the original decision to award the stadium to West Ham.

Following the collapse of the negotiations, Leyton Orient's chairman Barry Hearn said: "This represents a total victory for Leyton Orient football club and we are delighted."

Tottenham is yet to respond to the government's confirmation that West Ham's original deal with the OPLC had collapsed.

The post-Games stadium will be capable of hosting major athletics events and Premier League football.

That opens the possibility for Championship football club West Ham and their bid partner Newham Council to submit a new, lower risk proposal which could still see them move in after London 2012.

With West Ham's finances under strain following their relegation from the Premier League last season, the new arrangement could be much more attractive as it would only cost about £2m a year to lease the stadium.

That money will help offset estimated running costs of more than £5m a year.

Spurs are seeking a judicial review of the earlier decision to let West Ham buy the stadium and the next hearing at the High Court was due to be held next Tuesday.

And despite London Mayor Boris Johnson's ultimatum to Spurs last week to settle the dispute before next Tuesday and accept a funding package to help redevelop their White Hart Lane ground, the OPLC had lost confidence in a quick resolution.

Following the latest development, Mr Johnson said: "I am confident that this decision is the best way to ensure we have certainty over the stadium's future.

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

The clock is ticking for the OPLC because it has set a deadline of 2014 for the new tenants of the stadium to move in.

For that to happen, planning permission must be submitted by March 2012 to ensure work starts immediately after the Games.

James Pearce toured the stadium as it neared completion in February 2011

The prospect of a never-ending battle in the courts raised fears that the stadium could lie idle for years after the Olympics had finished.

The other catalyst for the U-turn is London's bid for the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

Last week's visit of the inspection team from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was dominated by the continuing uncertainty over the stadium's future and, in particular, the running track.

With London facing a real contest against Doha in November's vote, the government and mayor wanted to send a strong message to the IAAF that they are committed to staging the event in the Olympic Stadium.

London 2012 - Begin your journey here

London view

Ed Warner, chair of the UK Athletics board, said: "I think this is a bold and decisive move by the legacy company, supported obviously by the mayor and the government.

"It means the stadium will open for athletics in the summer of 2014, which was always the plan."

Former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said the new arrangement honoured the long term legacy pledge made during the bidding process.

She said: "The important result here is certainty, is that there is no blight caused by these negotiations - continuing negotiations driven by legal process with Tottenham - and that the communities of east London have the guarantee of access to the Olympic stadium after the Games."

But the latest twist to the controversial saga will raise serious questions about how such an important decision could be thrown back into confusion with just 10 months to go to the Games.

There will also be concerns over why another £35m of public money is going to be poured into a stadium which has already cost over £500m.

Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said he was "very disappointed" by the new decision on the stadium but believed West Ham's plans were "much more focused" than others.

 

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 295.

    More re arranging deckchairs on the Titanic..We should`nt even be having this discussion, the obscene waste of money that is the Olympics should have been binned off to some other fool.

    The best you can do with this monstrosity is convert it into a Frieght Terminal and create some real and needed jobs..The Olymics will not do that!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 294.

    Although I am a West Ham fan and would love the Hammers to move to the Olympic Stadium, I think that the best option to keep the desired legacy alive is to have public ownership. Hopefully this will bring together communities together for vaious sports, music and entertainment.

  • Comment number 293.

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

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 292.

    So 50 MILLION pounds more of our money will be spent on this white elephant of a stadium to make it smaller. Surely the biggest lunacy so far of this whole crazy Olympic affair.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 291.

    283.keithkettlewell
    OK, you don't like football, but what happens to the stadium is important - it should be a decent venue for all sorts of events, the only reason football clubs were involved is because they have the potential to fill the stadium every weekend, something not guaranteed by other events, and with their investment it would be a great asset for Newham and East London

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 290.

    #176 (Editor's pick) seems a bit of a Trigg comment, unless he is suggesting you play in a 2 sided stadium? The stands will be too far from the pitch already, without moving a couple even further.
    That would be one way to drown out the away end though, have them 75 yards from the pitch!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 289.

    @keithkettlewell

    "The stadium is of no matter ."

    So why waste your time and ours by posting on the subject?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 288.

    284. Tomk
    "Has anyone asked West Ham's legendary supporter, Alf Garnett?"

    You could have an idea. Warren Mitchell is actually a Spurs fan in real life so he should give a balanced view!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 287.

    Good to learn Barry Hearn is 'delighted' at the thought of many millions more pounds being spent on more legal wrangling in the next few months which jeopardises other possible income to relieve the public purse. Do Leyton Orient, in the 3rd tier of English football, seriously think they can fill a 60,000 seater stadium? Wishful thinking and sure to end in bankrupting the club.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 286.

    Have to say I'm a Spurs fan, and despite wanting to stay in Tottenham, our plan made the most financial and practical sense for the stadium.

    If UK athletics want to keep a running track then the stadium upkeep must be taken out of the UK athletics funding, not out of the general public purse.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 285.

    if the stadium remains as a public asset/liability and it has running costs of £5m,as per the report/story, then why would West Ham only be asked to pay £2m a year to lease it?

    Or is this just another way of the Olympic Committee and associates making money like they will from selling off the olympic village at a vastly reduced price?
    I am sick and tired of hearing about London 2012 already

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 284.

    Has anyone asked West Ham's legendary supporter, Alf Garnett?

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 283.

    To football fanatics everywhere I wish to point out that there ARE people who are not remotely interested in the game - I'm one of them . I do not conjoin in the tribalism that marks out fans . I find two teams of ridiculously of over paid individulas kicking a baldder of wind about extremely boring . To me every game appears to look almost the same as the last . The stadium is of no matter .

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 282.

    I think Spurs did the taxpayer a huge favour here by being so belligerent. Now we don't have to "loan" anyone £70 million and just get tasty rent and business tax from whoever moves in.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 281.

    RE: 260.The_Visitation

    "Erm, neither the 'public sector' or Civil Service had anything to do with it. And those who did never stood a chance because of some idiotic 'guarantees' given to the IOC by Seb Coe and his chums ruling out the only feasible deal"

    - Without which the bid would have never have succeeded (no big deal some might say but UK wanted to win the games)

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 280.

    Reply to #27, thetropicalfish:
    If Tottenham Hotspur end up taking over the Olympic Stadium, perhaps they should change their name to 'Stratford Spurs' after the MK Dons...

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 279.

    248 Why should the BBC give a stuff about football, they can't afford to show any so why bother with the greedy game at all.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 278.

    @243.SE16O

    everyone seems to forget if this goes through we'll be the ones worst effected by this!!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 277.

    Why don't West Ham and Leyton Orient [or even Spurs] ground share and get £3-4m for the rent. If it can work at Milan it can work anywhere.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 276.

    "It just might be best to take a loss knock it down and build some social housing on the land"

    - with some local council sports facilities in the middle

 

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