Harry Redknapp on Spurs Olympic move

Harry Redknapp has talked to the Ham&High on the move to the Olympic stadium. Here is what he had to say...

I gather you don’t like the idea of having a running track in a football stadium…

“No not at all. For me, as a football person, and I’m sure almost every football supporter in this country or anywhere in the world would say the same thing. Football’s all about atmosphere. You go to West Ham or Tottenham, or Liverpool or Manchester United, wherever you go to watch football in this country, it’s the atmosphere that makes it so great. And I think to have a running track around football pitches takes all the atmosphere away. And it’s not because West Ham want to… If Tottenham get the Olympic stadium and leave the athletics track around the pitch I would say the same thing. It’s not to do with who gets it. I’m not saying that Tottenham should get it or West Ham should get it. That’s not my decision. But whoever has it, I think running tracks around football pitches are a thing of the past. That’s not where I’d want to go and watch football, that’s for sure.”

If West Ham went there and kept the running track, would it kill the club?

“I don’t think it would kill the club. The owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, have got the best intentions for the club, I’m sure. It’s only my personal opinion, and I think it’s the opinion of most people who watch football – and footballers, they don’t want to play football with a running track around the outside of the pitch. That’s what it’s about, 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. I think it’s awful, absolutely awful. And I think the fans would tell you the same thing.”

Are you in favour of Tottenham moving to the Olympic stadium?

“If that’s what the club want. I’m not involved in that at all. That’s a decision for the chairman and the people who makes decisions like that. The club do need a bigger stadium if we’re going to push on. But if the chairman said to me we’re going to go there and leave the running track there, I couldn’t say that I would see that as a good idea. I’d be totally against that. I think the fans of both clubs would have plenty to say about it anyway, it will be interesting.”

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Can you see the positives of Tottenham moving there?

“Oh for sure, we need a bigger stadium. I think we’ve got 35,000 people on the list waiting for season tickets, which is incredible so Tottenham would fill a 60,000 seater stadium, no problem. The ideal situation would be if you could build one or find somewhere near the present stadium, but they’ve looked, they’ve exhausted all those… there is nowhere so this is the only real good option for them, to go there. I’m sure it would be a great stadium if it was just a football stadium. If West Ham get it and make it into just a football stadium I’d say ‘fantastic, good luck to them’. It would be great for West Ham, perfect. But if you leave the athletics track around it I can’t see that.”

What’s your take on clubs moving from their heartland?

“I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. It happens elsewhere and we’re not moving a million miles away are we. How long does it take to get to the Olympic stadium from White Hart Lane. Seven miles, it’s not an awful long way is it really. How many people who live in Tottenham actually come to watch Tottenham play? Where do the people come from? I think if you did a survey you’d find that it’s about one per cent or something.

“I don’t know what the fans think about it. They’re the ones to ask. It’s their club, they’re the most important people. I’ve only been here for five minutes, I can’t start telling Tottenham they should move up the road, if the fans don’t want to move. I wouldn’t want to put myself in a position where I dictate to what they do. It’s their club. They’ve been here long before I came and they’ll be here long after I go.

“It’s like West Ham. Do the West Ham fans want to move? If they do, and they want to watch a team play with an athletics track between them and the pitch, then fine, that’s up to them. I’m only giving my opinion. For me it wouldn’t be a goer. I wouldn’t be going to watch a game there every week personally if I was a football fan. I think Chelsea changed their stadium and it made a massive difference, when they did away with the old dog track. And the atmosphere at Chelsea now is completely different, it’s fantastic. And I think people don’t want to be sitting 50 or 60 yards from the pitch, they want to be amongst it all.

“It’s up to the chairman at the end of the day but I think they’ve go the right to an opinion haven’t they. Without them we’re not here. They’re the most important people. If they don’t feel it’s the right thing to move then… But somehow or other Tottenham do need a new stadium. At the moment it’s less than 36,000 and you can’t get a ticket here for love nor money, it’s sold out every single week. The potential’s there for a 60,000 stadium that would sell out every week for Tottenham, so we do need to do something, and if that’s the only option that’s the one we’ve got to take.

“Keep it as an athletics stadium if that’s what they want. Don’t make it into a football stadium if that’s what they want. Great, let’s have an athletics stadium and let’s forget football. But I think the two don’t mix. I love athletics, I follow it and watch it on TV. I’m looking forward to the Olympic Games, it will be fantastic. So keep it as an athletics stadium if that’s what this country wants. If we want a great athletics stadium we’ve got one. Why are we going to let a football club mess around with it, if that’s what they want? Keep it as it is. But can they afford to do that? Is it just going to sit there for one or two athletics meeting a year, which would be a waste. Will grass start growing up between the terracing and God know what, and in 10 years time we’ll have an eyesore? I don’t know – unless a football club gets it. We’ll have to wait and see.”

West Ham are talking about having cricket there…

“Hockey, I could see hockey. You could have boxing, pop concerts, you could use if for lots of things, it’s not a problem.”

It’s been a problem at Wembley…

“Surely you can maintain a good pitch now without ruining the pitch. The only thing I keep saying… I’m a football fanatic, I love watching football. And I wouldn’t want to watch a football team play, personally, with an athletics track between me and the pitch. I wouldn’t want it, that’s me.”

As a Londoner, isn’t London a very territorial city? West Ham regard that as THEIR territory?

“Yeah maybe. Probably, east London is the home of West Ham. But I don’t think it’s a big deal for clubs to move. We’re not moving up north anywhere. We’re still in London, we’re moving across London somewhere. But I don’t know who will get it, I wouldn’t have a clue. I only know what I read in the papers. One minute I see Tottenham will probably get it, then I see West Ham will probably get it. I don’t know, who are the people who decide? Do they watch football? Do they think it’s a good idea to watch football with a running track round it? They may do, they may never have watched football. I don’t even know who they are.”