Inside Lines: Why Hoey may hold key to the doors of Olympic stadium
Sunday 30 January 2011
The former sports minister Kate Hoey is emerging as a key figure in the pitched battle over the future of the 2012 Olympic stadium, a game of two halves now into extra-time with the possibility of penalties.
The Olympic Park Legacy Company, currently pondering the respective bids of Tottenham and West Ham, have delayed naming their preferred choice until next week at the earliest and it must then be approved – or vetoed – before 31 March by London's mayor, Boris Johnson. Tory Bojo relies heavily for guidance on sports issues on Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall whom he controversially appointed as London's sports commissioner. Hoey will tell himshe is very much in favour of the Hammers plan, which would include the retention of the athletics track.
She says: "For me this is about a genuine grass-roots community legacy. Tottenham have yet to show publicly how their proposal would bring any real benefit to the people of Newham – or, for that matter, the people of London. I want to see the stadium and the park alive with activity seven days a week and 365 days a year and I have been impressed with how thorough West Ham's plans are in this regard. More importantly, I want to know that the anchor tenants understand their responsibility to bring real opportunity to local people and a real sporting legacy to the entire city. From what I have seen so far, West Ham are the only applicant capable of delivering this to Londoners."
Her view is a timely boost for West Ham, with the skilfully orchestrated Spurs bid having gained ground by revealing a visionary blueprint to upgrade Crystal Palace as a world-class athletics hub, incorporating a warm-up track and all-weather hockey pitch. My information is that Legacy Company members are divided, and that the Government will waive the right to intervene, believing it to be a London issue that should finally be judged by Johnson.
Football's helping hand
It has not been the most savoury week for football so it is good to highlight a couple of developments which indicate that the game hasn't totally sold its soul.
Tottenham are making their elite training facilities at Chigwell regularly available to the GB cerebral palsy team in the run-up to the Paralympics, and tomorrow week the Premier League will host an event on behalf of the Special Olympics to support the growth of the sport among those with learning disabilities.
Fallen out of Sky
The Sky may have fallen in on the sexist piggery of Andy Gray and Richard Keys but the chauvinist chums are set to team up rather profitably again in front of the cameras of the 19-channel sports station Al Jazeera.
Keys is a close friend of Jonathan Whitehead, the ex-Sky man now a top executive at the Qatar-backed outfit, and has already flown to Doha for talks. We hear the gruesome twosome may not be the last to leave the Sky departure lounge, which last year also saw the exit of boxing producer Chris Brown over allegations of bullying.
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