Leader of 2012 bid to get £500,000

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The Independent Online

Organisers of the London 2012 Olympics expect to pay a salary of £500,000 to the person appointed to run the seven-year project.

Board members have admitted it may take such generous remuneration to lure someone as chief executive, probably from the private sector, with the skills and experience of delivering the Games.

The recruitment process began formally last week when the position was advertised in the national press for the head of the organising committee (Locog) which it described as a "role of the greatest national importance". The deadline for applications is 10 October.

The successful candidate will be on a shortlist compiled by City head-hunters Odgers Ray & Berndtson before they are chosen by the Locog chairman Sebastian Coe and his deputy Keith Mills towards the end of the year and he or she will be expected to start by March next year.

Lord Coe will remain the figurehead of the Games, probably until 2012, but is expected to become a de facto sports tsar, ensuring that Tony Blair delivers on his pledge during the bid campaign that sport would move "from the periphery to the mainstream".

The chief executive will handle the daily operations and keep Government interference to a minimum. They will recruit key people, manage a staff expected to be 3,000, and handle a £2bn budget. Names that have come up include Bob Kiley, the American head of London Underground, Tim O'Toole, managing director of London Underground and Jim Sloman, the chief operating officer of the Sydney Games.