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Who rules the roost?

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Kurt Barling | 17:58 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

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We return to the vexed question of the social and economic impact of football clubs.

Over the past week BBC London has been trying to get to grips with just how Londoners feel about the future of the Olympic Stadium and who should inhabit it after the fun and Games are over.

The whole Olympic stadium bidding process is beginning to feel like a rushed job. West Ham United's joint bid with Newham has raised questions about who exactly would be liable if their bid was successful for the £40m loan from the Treasury to a 'Special Delivery Vehicle' if West Ham can't pay their bills.

At the moment no one will answer the question. But presumably it will be some of the poorest taxpayers in London. Whilst it's easy to spin lines about the wonders that a loan could achieve, it's Newham Council's responsibility to know who is going to pay if the dream sours. There's been silence from the club and council.

I've also spent time in and around Tottenham High Street. All around the White Hart Lane ground of Tottenham Hotspur are boarded up properties. The reason they are boarded up, is because THFC have bought up the land as part of the Northumberland Park Development.

Anyone who believes the Spurs board's original intent was not serious is barking up the wrong tree.

But now that chairman Daniel Levy has clarified that in all probability the football club will have to look elsewhere for new premises even if they don't secure the Olympic Stadium potentially creates a whole new problem of blight.

It doesn't take much imagination to see that if Spurs now prevaricate about what they are going to do, it is going to take longer for any other investors to decide if they want to be part of regeneration plans in Tottenham.

In the mean time Tottenham residents will have to live with the bigger eyesore of boarded up premises without the prospect of any serious development on the horizon.

There are those who think that a football club like Spurs or West Ham are entitled to locate wherever they like. It is a commercial decision which should be dictated by what is in the best interests of the club and its fans.

However, in the case of West Ham it's not purely and simply a commercial decision. Newham argue 49 councillors out of 60 voted for the loan. The question remains whether they were clear about the public liability issue.

Over in Tottenham the club cannot argue for years with local businesses to support their case for redevelopment and then suddenly expect those same people to be happy as Larry when they change their minds and make it clear they want to up sticks because years of talk have led to an unviable plan, which by the way was viable two months ago.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company has now said it will delay its decision.

After our survey suggested that an overwhelming majority of Londoners want athletics to be at the heart of what the Olympic Stadium offers perhaps its time for the football community to listen to what non football addicts think.

At least Londoners now have time to broaden the argument again.

It seems that some people think the public are mugs and don't need to be involved in decisions which inevitably have a dramatic impact on their lives.

People in Haringey and Newham should be forgiven for thinking they live in a country where they can make their opinions heard.


  • Comment number 1.

    Spot on - great post and video.

  • Comment number 2.

    A really good article. The fairest I've read on the subject from the BBC.

    The only point I'd make about the survey of Londoners is that we don't know how they'd answer if asked if they'd like to pay for that athletics legacy through higher taxes, or prefer to claw back some of the money already spent by finding a commercial tenant.

    As with bendy buses, the people in the know or who are seriously effected by the decision are in the minority and under the tyranny of the many who have given little consideration to the question they're answering or directly impacted by the thing they're opinionated about.


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