Levy’s committed to leaving the Lane
TOTTENHAM Hotspur will continue to look for a new home away from White Hart Lane even if they fail in their bid for the Olympic Stadium, the club’s chairman revealed this week.
Spurs and West Ham are both aiming to move into the Olympic Stadium following the London Games in 2012. The ‘preferred bidder’ was due to be named tomorrow (Friday) but that decision has been postponed.
And Spurs chairman Daniel Levy (pictured) has announced that the club will continue to look for a new location if they fail in their attempt to relocate to east London, and will not necessarily return to their initial plan to build a new 60,000-seater stadium next to their current home.
“I think the problem with the current situation that we are in now at White Hart Lane is that the project is currently not viable so we would have to go back to the drawing board and that would obviously mean looking at other locations again,” he said.
“I’m totally confident that we would have no problem selling out a 60,000-seater stadium [at Stratford]. As far as the fans are concerned, I have to say that it is a very, very small group of individuals that are making it clear that whatever happens – even if we couldn’t build a bigger stadium – they would want us to stay here.”
Should they win the bid for the Olympic Stadium, Tottenham have announced that they would knock it down and build a purpose-built football venue in its place.
Spurs have no desire to inhabit a stadium that has a running track around the pitch, and manager Harry Redknapp supports the club’s view.
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“I think to have a running track around football pitches takes all the atmosphere away,” said the Spurs boss, who used to manage West Ham.
“It’s the atmosphere that makes the games, when the crowd is right on top of you and the place is buzzing. They don’t want to be sitting 50 or 60 yards away. No, I’m absolutely anti stadiums with running tracks between the pitch and the fans.”
Tottenham’s plans have angered senior athletics figures, including Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Committee, who promised a long-lasting athletics legacy at the stadium to help secure the Games back in 2005.
“It’s serious we deliver what we said we were going to unless we’re prepared to trash our reputation,” said Coe. “It’d be very difficult for us to be taken seriously in the corridors of world sport and arguably beyond.
“The bid was very clear and unambiguous. This was a community facility, multi-sport, track and field. I’m prepared to revisit my words that day but I genuinely don’t recall a whole heap about bulldozing down a publicly funded facility, replacing it with a Premier League football club and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticket holders, however many there may be on a waiting list. What we pledged in Singapore was not ambiguous.”
West Ham have pledged to retain the athletics track if they win the bid for the Olympic stadium.
However, Spurs’ bid partners AEG, who run the O2 Arena, believe that the Hammers would renege on that promise.
“The concept of athletics and football will ultimately fail,” said David Campbell, the chief executive of AEG Europe. “There is a litany of examples in Europe proving exactly that. You would be challenged after five years.
“It’s all about intimacy and being close to the action. No Premier League team plays with a track. If West Ham get the stadium, they will start to sell less tickets and then the economics go backwards. Ultimately, they will end up changing it.
“What we did with the [Millenium] Dome is akin to what we’re proposing with the Olympic Stadium. It’s the fan experience that makes the O2 work.”