The Fall Out Over The Olympic StadiumPosted: January 26, 2011
The Olympic stadium in Stratford has been one of the most hotly debated topics of the year. When the decision is made in the near future on which team should be chosen to make Stratford their new home it will signal a huge fall out no matter who gets the nod. When Spurs announced their plans to move to the Olympic stadium it was more or less seen as a back-up in case their plans to redevelop White Hart Lane went pear shaped or they couldn’t afford to build a new ground. But, recent indications are that Daniel Levy and his fellow Boardroom members are serious about this move that will cause serious friction in the Tottenham support which was seen by the protest before their recent Premier league match against Manchester United.
But, with an interview with Sky Sports News on Monday night, Mr Levy seemed very confident that it was only a small minority of fans who were unhappy with the proposed move. From a business point of view it makes perfect sense for Spurs to move to Stratford. It would be much cheaper for them to move to Stratford, however, it would have a huge hand in helping the club lose its identity and that’s what most fans are worried about. Another part of their thinking is that this move to east London would improve access to the club. Tottenham is one of the hardest grounds to get to and with the clubs fan base growing the board believe it will be beneficial to move to a more accessible location. In the same interview Levy also hinted that even if Spurs do not win the bid then they will still be looking at the option of moving stadium rather than redevelop White Hart Line.
Now, what about West Ham? The Olympic stadium is in the London Borough of Newham which is a mere 1 mile from West Hams current home Upton Park. Unlike Spurs, the Hammers plan to leave the Athletics track in place if/when they move into the stadium. This decision has made them very popular with the committee. Obviously, the fact that Upton Park is located in East London as well as Stratford will be a huge factor in the decision made by the committee. Although, Spurs have said that they will leave an ‘Athletics legacy elsewhere’ by building another Athletics Track near Crystal Palace, it is believed that it is preferred that the Athletics Track remain in place, something that is not associated with English football.
One of the fears that giving the stadium to West ham is that they will not be able to keep up with the upkeep of the stadium. Traditionally, Spurs are known to have a bigger fan base than West ham and obviously will attract bigger crowds to the stadium. West Ham are facing the large prospect of being relegated from the Premier League this season after an 8 year spell. If they were to go down after acquiring the Olympic stadium it would not be good news. They would be burdened with a 60000 seater stadium which would be the home of a second tier football team whereas Spurs, who have found a new lease of life in the past 2 years could possibly be competing at the Peak of European football. That factor has also to be considered when making a decision.
The biggest loser out of all of this could be Leyton Orient. Orient have been struggling for attendances for years and Brisbane Road (where they currently reside) is often half empty come match day. Orient owner Barry Hearn has been looking into moving the club outside of London for some time and the current debacle could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. However, if this was to happen, it could have a detrimental effect on a Local Non league should the League 1 outfit move. This is a sorry state of affairs.
In my opinion West Ham United should be the beneficiaries of the stadium. The Spurs plan seems to be too divisive. It has the aura of ‘MK Dons and Wimbledon’ about. 5 miles may not sound like a lot but in London 5 miles is a long way away from home. It is well believed that if Spurs were to move to Stratford it would rip the soul out of Tottenham and leave a huge void in the community. The football club is the heart and soul of the community no less. Daniel Levy has spent a lot of money turning the football club around after a dismal 20 years. The decision of the committee could undo all of his good work as the gorge that sits in the middle of the fan base at present, is getting bigger by the second.