Hammers and Spurs fight over Olympic stadium
West Ham co-owner David Sullivan says there could be a riot if Spurs win the bid for the Olympic Stadium in Stratford
WEST HAM have made the first move in their scrap with Tottenham Hotspur over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford by writing to the Premier League.
In a surprise move to many, Spurs have teamed up with AEG – the owners of the O2 in Docklands – in a bid to rival West Ham for the tenancy of the stadium after the 2012 Games.
Spurs have planning permission for a stadium of their own in Haringey, but it seems that the huge cost of that project has led them to favour a move over to Stratford after the Olympic Games.
It is a plan that has predictably angered co-owner David Sullivan. Never backward in his views, he slammed the Spurs bid stating: “It would be such a slap in the face to east London. If it happens, there will be real problems that could easily lead to civil unrest.
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“I feel very let down by Tottenham. The way they do business is not right. They pinched Eidur Gudjohnsen off us after we brought him from Barcelona for talks. He just disappeared from the hotel. And the way they unsettled Scott Parker was appalling.
“Now they want to move into our borough of Newham. How would they like it if we suddenly set up a new home in Haringey? I’m flabbergasted by the cheek of it.”
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Sullivan speaks for many West Ham fans and Ian Tompkins, the Hammers’ Olympic Project Director, revealed that the club have already been active in opposing the Tottenham plan.
“We are East London’s premier football team, and we have been for 100 years. Tottenham is a North London club,” said Tompkins
“We have written to the Premier League this week to remind them of their rules regarding clubs moving out of their areas.”
Perhaps the most worrying thing about the Spurs bid is the fact that AEG are part of it, something that West Ham weren’t too keen to talk about.
“I don’t want to comment on that,” said Tompkins. “What I would say is that we have had meaningful discussions with AEG as well as a number of other parties.
“We teamed up with Newham Council because we recognise what needs to be done in the borough and we think we are the best partnership to carry that out.
“We understand what we need to do and we will be working hard towards it.”
However, Tim Leiweke, the head of AEG was keen to promote their bid with Spurs and their chairman Daniel Levy, a plan that does not include a running track.
“We want the venue to be perfect for football for the next 30 years, rather than the odd athletics meeting,” said Leiweke.
“Tottenham are a good fit whose supporters can fill a 60,000 stadium, while it would be a bit of a miracle if West Ham are in the top five of the Premier League.”
That sort of statement is certain to light the blue touch paper and West Ham are said to be keen to talk to Spurs about the seriousness of their bid in the next couple of days.
The shortlist is likely to be revealed at the end of October.