To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering
Tottenham Hotspur yesterday took their first predictable step in their legal battle to challenge the decision to hand the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United. The club are seeking permission from the High Court to bring a judicial review of Newham council’s involvement in the provision of a £40million loan to finance West Ham’s move to the stadium after the 2012 Games.
Central to Tottenham’s concern is the fact that it only came to light publicly in March – after the Olympic Park Legacy Company had made their decision – that Newham tax-payers could "on a theoretical perspective" be liable for the loan should West Ham default on the repayments.
Questions have also been raised at how Newham’s all-Labour council came to agree the loan and whether they were given ample time to fully understand all the financial consequences before making their decision. The money will be provided by central government and loaned by Newham to a new stadium company that will be set up to manage the Olympic Stadium.
At this stage, Tottenham have sought permission from the High Court to bring their claim for a judicial review. Newham now have 21 days in which they can set out whether they wish to contest the claim and on what grounds. Tottenham said they had no choice but to launch proceedings as Newham had not responded to their requests for further information into their processes. Tottenham have also sought answers from the OPLC, the Mayor of London and also two governments. No decision has yet been made on whether to take legal action against these bodies. If Tottenham succeed with a judicial review they could only annul rather than reverse the decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham.
In a statement, Spurs said: "The club has today sought permission from the High Court to bring a claim against the London Borough of Newham for judicial review of Newham's process in providing a loan for the conversion of the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games. The club wrote to Newham asking it to explain its reasons and justification for its decision, but Newham has declined to respond to this request for information. Due to the time limits which apply to claims for judicial review, the club has had no alternative but to issue these proceedings in order to protect its position. The club continues to hold discussions with both local and national government bodies in order to seek to agree a feasible stadium solution."
Tottenham are risking £1million in legal fees by challenging the decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham, although financial considerations will not be a major deterrent for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. The costs would be about £500,000 and the club would incur a similar amount from the other sides combined if they lost. That is still a small outlay when the revenue generating potential of moving into the stadium runs into many millions. They are desperate to move from White Hart Lane to a bigger home to consolidate their Champions League status, and the Olympic site is favoured ahead of more costly options in their heartland of Haringey. If they push ahead, the case is thought likely to be concluded by mid-July.
Tottenham lost out in a bitterly contested battle with the Hammers to become the new tenants of the stadium in Stratford, east London. The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) chose West Ham’s joint bid with Newham after the east London club pledged to retain the athletics track. West Ham intend to convert the 80,000-seat stadium into a 60,000-capacity facility and plan to move from Upton Park in 2014-15 with a 250-year lease and to give a 250-year lease to UK Athletics.
Tottenham's plans, part of a joint bid with AEG sport and entertainment promotions group, had been to create a stadium without the track and to redevelop Crystal Palace for athletics. Newham Council, West Ham and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), which is in charge of securing the future of the Olympic Park after the Games, all said they would not comment about the new development.
Last month, when Tottenham signalled their intention to seek a review, the OPLC declared itself confident that it had made the right decision. The body said in a statement: "We are confident that if these judicial review proceedings are pursued, our approach will be entirely vindicated by the courts. The OPLC ran a very rigorous and transparent process in its selection of the recommended preferred bidder."
OPLC board members unanimously voted 14-0 to make the Hammers their first choice to move into the £486m stadium. Margaret Ford, chairman of the OPLC, insisted they have not put a foot wrong in the process which saw West Ham chosen over Spurs as the preferred bidders for the stadium. "In terms of anyone launching inquiries or reviews into what we did I don't believe we have put a foot wrong in this process," said Ford. "I have complete confidence we took a decent decision based on a really robust process and it's for other people to decide whether they want to pick holes in that. At the very start of this process I said, this may be subject to a National Audit Office inquiry, the Public Accounts Committee, it may be subject to a judicial review as it is such a high-profile transaction and we have to absolutely pay so much attention to detail."
West Ham, who were named in February as the preferred bidder, have estimated it could cost £95m to convert the venue after the Games. They have begun a competitive tender, which could take at least three months to complete, to find potential contractors to convert the stadium. West Ham are also still in the middle of trying to strike a deal with the OPLC so that they can move into the stadium in 2014. The OPLC's choice of West Ham as preferred bidder has also been rubber-stamped by the Government and London mayor Boris Johnson.
From High Court to FA tribunal where Carlton Cole has admitted a Football Association disciplinary charge relating to comments he made on Twitter during the England verses Ghana friendly on 29 March. In comments that were later removed from the social networking site, the West Ham United striker said: "Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha. The only way to get out safely is to wear an England jersey and paint your face w/the St. George's flag!"
Cole later said the comments were a joke. He has admitted the improper conduct charge and requested a personal hearing, to be heard no later than 21 April. Cole is likely to escape a ban but can expect a fine in the region of £10,000. Although there is no precedent for allegedly racist comments expressed via Twitter, the then Liverpool striker Ryan Babel was fined a similar amount in January after re-tweeting an image of the referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt.
As for matters on the pitch- or more usually the treatment table as far as frangible Kieron Dyer is concerned- Talksport insist the Vitreous One could make a shock comeback for West Ham against Aston Villa on Saturday. Dyer, 32, has been plagued by injury problems once again this season and has only made eight Premier League starts for the east London club.
The former England midfielder was sent out on loan to his former club Ipswich last month in a bid to get him some much needed first-team action. Ipswich boss Paul Jewell wanted to keep Dyer at Portman Road for the rest of the season but was told by Avram Grant that he wanted the player back for their crucial run-in as they look to stay in the Premier League. Jewell said: "Kieron spoke to the manager Avram Grant and he said he wanted him to feature in some of the games between now and the end of the season."
With West Ham crashing to a 3-0 defeat against Bolton last Saturday, Grant is set to make changes for the must-win game against fellow strugglers Aston Villa at Upton Park. Talking of which, defender James Tomkins, who started in the opening match of the season at Villa back in August, is looking for the Hammers to make up for that dismal performance at Villa Park this Saturday. "It is going to be a huge match," he admitted. “Aston Villa are down there as well, so that is going to make it a bit of a six-pointer. Hopefully we can get some revenge on them for the opening day of the season. They are a good team, but we are a good team as well and we can beat them."
Tomkins believes the agony of a Premier League survival battle last season will stand the team in good stead when they scrap away for vital points this time. Proving, as I have always suspected, that he is clearly an advocate of Nietzchean aphorisms: "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" (in diametric opposition to Dyer's nihilistic contention: "that which does not kill us simply prolongs the agony"). Still only 22, and when not studying Twilight of the Idols in the dugout, the youngster has already chalked up 72 appearances in claret and blue, including vital games in Gianfranco Zola’s relegation battle last year. "We have got a lot of experience from last year having gone through it and I think it is pretty similar this time round," he said. "I think it is going to be hard because the teams all around us are picking up points – everyone is beating everyone – so we will have to see what happens and just take one game at a time."
Last season, West Ham managed to stay up with just 35 points, but this time it looks like being a much bigger task. So how many points does Tomkins think they require this time round? "I think we need to get over 40 points to stay in the league," said Tomkins defiantly. "That is the way it is going at the moment, so I think about three or four wins will be enough." Back-to-back defeats by Manchester United and Bolton will have hit the confidence of the team, but Tomkins insists that morale is still high in the camp, despite the losses. "We are upbeat," he said. "We have had good results against teams around us and though we’ve got to play a couple of hard teams, we can beat anyone on our day. We have beaten some big teams this year, so we can do it again."
Finally, according to the Mirror, the Hammers are tracking Sporting Lisbon's Portugese international forward Yannick Djalo. The Bissau-born Djaló, 24, has reportedly already been scouted by Tottenham, Everton and Fulham this term with Sporting ready to sell for around £8m this summer. He has also attracted interest from a number of Serie A clubs, although his agent insists England remains his more likely destination should he ultimately move.