West Ham vs Tottenham. Surely it's a home win?
Keeping the athletics track, and keeping Spurs out of east London, are the big issues as rivals go head to head for Olympic site
Sunday 23 January 2011
On Friday, the Olympic Park Legacy Company choose their preferred tenant to lease the 2012 Olympic Stadium at Stratford after the Games. The candidates are rival clubs West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, whose intentions differ in one crucial aspect.
Although each would play in a stadium holding 60,000, West Ham would retain the track surrounding the pitch for use as the country's principal athletics venue, whereas Spurs would do away with it. Instead, Spurs wish to develop the existing national stadium at Crystal Palace for athletics, leaving the Olympic Stadium for football and concerts.
The arguments for and against are outlined below. Supporters of both clubs are split about leaving popular – if cramped – grounds. Many Spurs fans are additionally concerned about moving from their area. The wider issue concerns the pledge given by London's bid team that the stadium would be "a purpose-built home for athletics for generations to come".
For the move
Tottenham's plans would deliver a commercially sustainable and iconic venue centered around a world-class 60,000-seat stadium, filled week in, week out. Designed to deliver the best fan experience in Europe, it would include concerts and sporting events managed by AEG, the company that created the O2, with a programme of community projects delivered by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.
The athletics legacy would secure a significant redevelopment of Crystal Palace Sports Centre with a 25,000-seat modern stadium used by athletes every day of the year, and long-term funding for grass-roots athletics. The proposals deliver a true legacy and avoid the need for an unsatisfactory compromise solution which would not be sustainable in the long term.
Tottenham Hotspur statement
Against the move
It says a lot that Tottenham have chosen to employ a leading PR company to sell us the virtues of moving away from their home of 127 years; the place which provides the club with a romantic identity in the eyes of thousands of fans. The fact that the club has switched its priority from the redevelopment of White Hart Lane tells me they are deadly serious about moving to Stratford and, more troublingly, that the club is more in touch with its bank balance than the opinion of many fans.
We cannot be asked to "cut through the emotion" and "see the bigger picture". It is this emotion that drives a fan. Without it, it's just 22 men and a ball; it is the same feeling that leads us close to the financial precipice, just to see our team play. Trophies have been won thanks to and in spite of the club's location. I have been a Spurs fan during good times and bad. In the end, any victory achieved by Tottenham in Stratford would be as hollow as the name of the club that plays there.
Tim Framp, co-founder of WeAreN17
For the move
The 2012 Olympics was won on the commitment of keeping the stadium for athletics. It's important for the UK's credibility as a sporting nation – especially after the 2018 World Cup bid – to keep that promise. Pulling it down would waste a fortune in taxpayers' money in a time of austerity. It will put east London on the map. We can attract the 2015 Rugby World Cup, 2017 World Athletics Championships, NFL expansion and more boxing.
We have strong links to the local community and a vested interest in the rejuvenation of east London. This is the only way profits will be shared for the benefit of the community.
Fans' groups are behind the move. This will open up the club to fans for whom the cost of watching Premier League football has until now been prohibitive. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the club to grow commensurate with its fanbase.
West Ham statement
Against the move
As a loyal West Ham fan, I am opposed to moving to Stratford on every level. First is the damage that I feel moving will do financially. The maths don't add up. There's rent to be paid, a debt to Newham Council and rebuild costs. Naming rights for a stadium are fine for Champions' League clubs, but who's going to pay top dollar to a club bumping around the basement of the Premier League or in the Championship?
The Boleyn ground is our home, steeped in history, and leaving there will be the end of West Ham. Any soul left in the club, any link with the fans and heritage, will disappear. At a soulless bowl with a running track it will be hard to create any atmosphere. Our club has always had an intimate feel, and the players always react positively. The inclusion of Spurs into the mix has led to a groundswell of opinion saying "we can't let them move into our manor", rather than concentrating on the detrimental affect the move will have on us.
Graham Godfrey is from West Ham fans' website www.kumb.com
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