Backers rally round Hammers bid

After the shock of the Tottenham/AEG bid for the Olympic Stadium, West Ham have hit back with an impressive passage.

WEST HAM have moved swiftly to put themselves into pole position for the Olympic Stadium legacy after receiving the support of two important backers this week.

After the shock of Tottenham’s late, late bid for the Stadium in conjunction with AEG, the owners of the O2 Arena, the Hammers came up with a knee-jerk reaction when co-owner David Sullivan suggested there could be riots if the north London team were allowed to move into Stratford.

However, after a couple of days of thought they came up with a new and much more positive strategy to show their bid in a better light – this seems to have worked a treat.

Baroness Ford, the chairman of the Olympic Legacy Company, first of all reiterated that the stadium will keep its running track, something that both Spurs and AEG have stressed is unworkable.

Lord Coe, an influential figure in the future of the stadium, stated that it is the West Ham bid that has most credence, and then both Live Nation and UK Athletics have thrown their backing behind the Hammers ambitious bid for the �583million stadium.

The biggest worry for the Hammers must have been the way AEG swapped horses in mid-stream, with alleged ‘personality clashes’ cited as one reason why they moved allegiances to Tottenham.

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However, the longer the debate goes on, the more it seems that they have hitched their wagon to the wrong horse, a point illustrated perfectly by the arrival on the scene of their greatest rivals – Live Nation –the world’s largest live events company, who deal with the likes of Madonna and U2.

After a series of meetings, Paul Latham, their chief operating officer, has written to the club to confirm the company’s support.

“We regard the Olympic Stadium as an exciting project which would be a superb venue for hosting major concerts and other events,” said Latham.

“We would be happy to continue working with you to ensure that we bring major concerts and other events to the stadium on an annual basis.”

That seems to have solved the AEG problem and West Ham were given a further boost on Monday when UK Athletics chief Ed Warner, originally bitterly opposed to West Ham’s involvement at the stadium, plegded his organisation’s support to the Hammers cause as well.

“What has impressed me so much about the joint bid from West Ham and Newham Council is their clear commitment to the spirit of the Olympic Legacy and not just athletics at the elite end, but with the retention of the community track, our future champions and club runners too,” said Warner this week.

“It was clear from the start that only a partnership approach would bring to life the vision Seb Coe had when he committed to an athletics legacy in 2005 and we believe the collaboration of West Ham, Newham Council and the UKA gives the strongest opportunity for a vibrant sporting legacy that will go well beyond 2012.

The news of the support from Live Nation and UK Athletics was met with glee by both West Ham and Newham Council, who must have been knocked sideways by the Tottenham intervention.

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, commented: “We are delighted UKA are backing our bid.

“It is important we create a vibrant, diverse, well-used stadium that brings maximum public benefit, especially for local people.

“That means offering an array of sports all year round and hopefully will include prestigious events like the 2015 World Athletics Championships and the 2018 football World Cup.

“A busy stadium will in turn open up a whole raft of opportunities and benefits for the local community for decades to come and that is the legacy we in Newham and the East End want from the Olympics.”

West Ham are still unaware of any other opponents they may have on the shortlist, which will be revealed at the end of the month.

But whoever it is, it seems hard to imagine that they will be better prepared than the West Ham/Newham Council bid that seems to be ticking most of the boxes.