West Ham lead race to occupy Olympic stadium

West Ham FC step up their campaign as fierce contest for site enters endgame

Even as the last firework died in the sky and thousands filed from the Olympic Stadium in the early hours of yesterday, a different sporting spectacle involving every bit of the tactical cunning and impassioned belief deployed in the arena over the past fortnight was sparking back into life.

Although it lacks the size and majesty of Beijing's Bird's Nest, the atmosphere day after day in the 80,000-capacity stadium on the Olympic Park has been one of the triumphs of London 2012.

Those bidding to take over the occupancy of the Stratford arena in 2014 clearly saw something they liked too.

Premier League football club West Ham yesterday stepped up its PR campaign to shore up its position as favourite to become the stadium's main tenant when the team's manager said the facility risked going to "rack and ruin" without a top-flight footballing occupant.

Sam Allardyce, who guided the club back to the Premiership last season and in so doing improved West Ham's chances of securing the £503m facility, said: "You only have to look around the world at some of the Olympic stadiums that have been built. They're white elephants now. There are weeds growing there. Look at the Bird's Nest in Beijing. Look at Athens. The Olympic Park is a fantastic place, but it can't be left to rack and ruin. If a club with the history and fanbase and potential of West Ham don't go there, the concern would be that the park is left empty the vast majority of the time."

The comments are the latest salvo in the battle between four final bidders to take over the stadium once the two events of London 2012 – the Olympics and the Paralympics – are finished.

The flip-flopping saga of just what to do with the stadium has been one of the less auspicious aspects of securing the Olympic legacy. When London won its bid for the Olympics in 2005, plans were announced to reduce the arena to 25,000 seats to provide a permanent home for British athletics.

While the athletics track will remain in place, the existing structure will now also stay put, leaving a 60,000-seat stadium with room for executive boxes and potential for retractable seating to cover the running surface.

Along with West Ham, the other hopefuls are Football League side Leyton Orient, a Burnley-based higher education business called the University College of Football Business, and an unusual plan to stage a Formula One race in the park.

It is a contest which has already proven intensely competitive, if not downright dirty. A previous attempt to award the stadium to West Ham last year was derailed when Premiership rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Orient took legal action over the decision and there was an anonymous complaint to the European Union.

In January, Scotland Yard arrested a private investigator, who had been retained by Tottenham, on suspicion of fraud after he allegedly obtained the telephone records of West Ham's vice-chairman, Karren Brady.

Howard Hill, 57, from Cheshire, and his former employer, accountancy firm PKF, were hired by Tottenham to carry out inquiries linked to the bidding process. Mr Hill, who remains on police bail, has since resigned from PKF.

Tottenham have strongly denied ever receiving a copy of Ms Brady's records or instructing PKF to engage in unlawful activity. Both PKF and Mr Hill have denied using "any unlawful activity" to obtain phone records.

The legal entanglement prompted a decision to take the stadium into public ownership with the London Legacy Development Corporation and lease it back to a new tenant, forcing the latest bidding round which is due to be decided in October.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick