Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Torch Goes Out On Olympic Dream

The organisers of London's Olympic Games have announced that they will not allow West Ham or any other Premiership club to move into the Olympic stadium after the 2012 event. The Times report that we had been looking at the possibility of using a slimmed down version of the stadium in east London, but the London 2012 board said that the consequent plans would need too many changes and delays.

A statement from the board said: "The board reiterated that the priority was to deliver an Olympic stadium on time and on budget. The board unanimously decided, therefore, that it would not be possible to deliver this in collaboration with West Ham, or indeed any other Premier League football club, due to the number of design changes and associated time delays that the West Ham proposal would incur." The intention of the committee is for the stadium to be reduced to a 25,000-seat multi-sport venue for combined commercial, school and community use.

The verdict delivered on Wednesday is no great surprise. It was reported earlier in the week that West Ham's hopes of moving into the Olympic Stadium had virtually disappeared because of tight deadlines and technical requirements. Lord Coe, chairman of 2012, insisted: "We've always made it clear we will go forward with track and field facilities but we'll encourage other sports to become involved. We have always stressed the need to provide a stadium with an athletics and community sports-for-all legacy."

Eggert Magnusson has always been keen to move West Ham out of Upton Park, where the capacity of 36 ,000 is deemed too restrictive for the long term ambitions of the Iclandic consortium. It is thought he will now turn his attentions to other possible potential sites. According to the BBC,
the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has told the Olympic board he is anxious to assist and support West Ham's plans for developing and securing their future. After discussions with Mr Livingstone, West Ham are now exploring with the London Development Agency (LDA) the possibility of relocating and building a new stadium.

One of the options being considered is a site next to West Ham underground station, currently the site of Parcel Force. The land around Stephenson Street would represent a return to West Ham's roots. In 1897 Thames Ironworks FC moved into the nearby Memorial Ground only leaving on the expiry of their lease in 1904 after founder Arnold Hills disowned the club following the onset of professionalism in football. The club was reborn as West Ham United in 1900. The site already has an airport and hotels in the vacinity as well as excellent trasnport links at West Ham station. One thing that would need seriously addressing is the lack of pubs in the area! The Beaconsfield, Anchor, Bridge House and Salisbury have all fallen into disrepair. It is unclear how advanced Magnusson is with negotiations. It is believed he went on a guided tour of the site last week and another insider claims we have requested the formal price for the land even though Royal Mail cannot yet give a date as to when the site would be available.

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