Harry Redknapp sounds West Ham warning over Olympic Stadium

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp congratulated West Ham after they won the race to move into the Olympic Stadium but the Tottenham boss has warned that the club's fans will struggle to replicate the famous Upton Park atmosphere in their new home.

The Hammers are expected to move into the Olympic Stadium in 2014 after the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) chose the club as their preferred bidder today.



The decision is expected to be ratified by the Government and London mayor Boris Johnson but it would be a huge surprise if they did not rubber-stamp the recommendation.



Redknapp has always been against West Ham's bid to move to the stadium based on the fact that he is firmly against football teams playing in a stadium that includes a running track.



Tottenham had planned to take out the running track but West Ham were committed to keeping it - a fact which appears to have played a key part in their success.



Redknapp has fond memories of the Hammers' Upton Park stadium having started his playing career there before returning as manager in a seven-year spell towards the end of the last century.



The Hammers are now expected to move into the stadium for the 2014-15 season and Redknapp believes the presence of a running track around the playing field will kill what he deems one of the best atmospheres in the world.



He said: "Good luck to them if that's what the fans want (but) I wouldn't want to watch football matches with a track around it.



"That's my view and I don't think most people would.



"I would've thought those days were gone.



"I wouldn't want to watch a match with an athletics track around it. There is no atmosphere.



"I wouldn't want to watch football while sitting miles away from the pitch in a stadium that holds 60,000 people that is half full - that wouldn't appeal to me at all."



"As a person who knows what West Ham fans are like, not many places could beat Upton Park on a good day when the crowd were in full flow singing Bubbles and swaying as they used to back in the old days.



"They will miss that for sure but if it's what they need to do and feel that it is the right move and it takes the club forward then good luck to them."



Tottenham, whose bid was backed by entertainment company AEG, were criticised for their plan to knock down the stadium and replace it with a 60,000 football stadium.



They planned to honour Britain's commitment to holding post-Games athletics meetings by refurbishing Crystal Palace.



Spurs insist that playing in a stadium with a running track around it would not financially viable.



The club issued a statement this afternoon which read: "The Olympic Stadium site is an essential element in the creation of a viable Olympic Park and we know that, together with AEG, we provided a first class proposal to support the sustainability of the whole project.



"It was never an option, however, that we would retain the running track as we believe this to be unacceptable for our supporters and therefore wholly unviable in the long term.



"It carries with it the major risk of being incapable of delivering a lasting legacy without further calls on the public purse or a requirement for changes to the stadium and track at a later date."



Spurs now believe that, having committed to keeping the track, West Ham must be forced to keep it by law.



The statement continued: "Much has been made of the promise to keep the athletics track within the Olympic Stadium and, therefore, we should all expect to see the retention of this track firmly embedded and legally guaranteed by those entrusted with this legacy commitment, today and in the future."



Tottenham had originally planned to move to a site near their current home but chairman Daniel Levy recently said that idea, known as the Northumberland Development Project, would not be viable due to increased costs.



They will now look at other sites and are expecting West Ham's bid to be sanctioned.



Redknapp is convinced that Spurs need to move to a bigger stadium to continue to challenge for a top-four position.



He said: "We need a new 60,000 seater stadium because we haven't got room to accommodate all the people that want to come and watch us every week."

Comments