Spurs challenge Newham's loan to West Ham in stadium battle

Tottenham begin legal fight against council that partly funded rivals' successful bid for use of Olympic venue
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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur yesterday took the first step in their legal battle to challenge the decision to hand the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United with the club seeking permission from the High Court to bring a judicial review against Newham Council.

The London borough, in which West Ham is based, has arranged a £40m loan to help finance the club's move to the stadium after the 2012 Games.

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 lost out in a bitterly contested battle with West Ham to become the new tenants of the stadium in Stratford, east London.

West Ham, in a joint bid with Newham Council, intend to convert the 80,000-seat stadium into a 60,000-capacity facility which retains an athletics track. The club 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.

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.