POSTED: January 19th 2011

IOC member Reedie lines up against Clegg in London 2012 stadium battle

London's stadium, Sir Craig Reedie and Simon Clegg / lake images
London's stadium, Sir Craig Reedie and Simon Clegg / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON, Jan 19: Tempers are becoming further inflamed ahead of next week’s decision on whether Tottenham or West Ham will emerge as “preferred bidder” to take over the London 2012 Olympic Stadium site.

British IOC member Sir Craig Reedie and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone have spoken out against Spurs’ proposal to raze the stadium and build a football-only stadium; but Simon Clegg, ex-chief executive of the British Olympic Association, has attacked the rival West Ham concept.

In a separate development, the former Olympic javelin champion Tessa Sanderson has been barred from the decision-nmaking procress – even though she is a board member of the ruling Olympic Park Legacy Company.

Sanderson, it emerged over the weekend, also has a consultancy contract with local Newham Council which is supporting the West Ham bid.

Creating a stadium with an athletics track legacy was one of the pledges which helped win the Games for London. Last week Jacques Rogge, president of the the International Olympic Committee, said the Games’ governing body would not intervene in the decision.

Major tenant

However IOC member Reedie is appalled by the Spurs plan. He was reported as saying: “It [the Tottenham option] would be extremely regretful. We would lose credibility. The West Ham proposal seems an ideal use of a converted stadium in the Olympic Park. If we have one tenant of a major football club and it is going to keep the athletics track, that is my chosen option. It was sport that generated the Olympic Park in the first place.

"The only correct long-term usage is to have a stadium which can be used as the centre of future bids for major sports events, probably concentrating on what is the Olympic Games' leading sport."

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Reddie added: “Promises were made in the winning of the 2012 Olympic Games and it is important that those promises are honoured. It would be shameful if, yet again, we lost the opportunity to leave a proper sports legacy."

Livingstone, on the same theme, said: “I would be horrified at the thought that you demolish a stadium we've just spent £400m building – and then build a new one. There's a carbon footprint cost here which is just not acceptable."

Tottenham have engaged Mike Lee, a former West Ham director who played a key promotional role in London’s bid project, to promote their own Olympic ideal.

Entertainment partner

The north London club, which has alternative plans to rebuild its own White Harte Lane venue, is bidding in collaboration with entertainment and sports giants AEG, which runs the O2 Arena beside the Thames in Greenwich, south London.

West Ham say they will retain most of the structure, although they will reduce the venue's capacity from 80,000 to 60,000 to create an arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use in a collaboration with Newham Council.

The OPLC’s decision on Friday, January 28, must be ratified by both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as well as the Department of Communities and Local Government plus the London Mayor's office.

Ed Warner, head of United Kingdom Athletics, has attacked the prospect of the OPLC accepting Tottenham’s “filthy lucre.”

However his opinion is not shared by Clegg, one of the key figures in securing the 2012 Olympics for London. Clegg, now in football as ceo of Ipswich Town, says it would be "madness" to have a running track inside a stadium which would be mainly used for football.

'Viable model'

Clegg, who first formulated the London Games plan, said he recognised the need for a legacy commitment. But he added: “While it is obvious that the only viable model for the stadium is to have a football club as an anchor tenant, I am very clear it is not compatible to have football and track and field athletics in the same stadium in this country.

“Football fans in this country want to be as close to the action as possible. I articulated this to Sebastian Coe a couple of years ago but the issue has become even more acute for me since I have been involved in a club. The West Ham option would be a huge challenge and I don't think it would work.

“The entire bid was based on the principle of sustainable legacy and not creating white elephants. It's madness to suggest we should keep a track just on the basis we may get an athletics world championships or European championships say once every 15 -20 years."

** Great Britain’s men’s and women’s handball teams will be able, after all, to take up host nation qualification places at London 2012.

Keywords · London 2012 · Olympic Games · Olympic Stadium · IOC · Reedie · Livingstone · Sanderson · Clegg · Lee · Warner · OPLC · legacy

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