Sir Robin Wales backs West Ham bid to move into Olympic Stadium

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

By Duncan Mackay

January 20 - West Ham United's bid to move into the Olympic Stadium after London has staged the 2012 Games has today received the backing of Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, one of the five Olympic Host Boroughs.

David Gold and David Sullivan, who completed their £105 million takeover of the Premier League club yesterday, have made negotiating a deal with London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Government to relocate from Upton Park to the 80,000-capacity stadium being built for the Olympics and Paralympics a priority.

Sir Robin has endorsed the proposed move to the Olympic Stadium, which is located in Newham.

He said: "This is great news and augurs well.

"The new owners were in Birmingham for the long haul and they clearly have the best interests of West Ham at heart.

"West Ham is synonymous with the East End and deserves the chance to be the best and beat the best.

"We have always argued the Olympic Stadium deserves a top-flight football team after London 2012.

"In my eyes there is only one obvious choice - and that's the Hammers.

"Allowing the club to move into this iconic setting would ensure a fitting legacy for the stadium."

West Ham had initially expressed interest about moving into the Stadium during the early stages of development but talks broke down because London 2012 insisted that an athletics track remained after the Games.

Tottenham Hotspur also held preliminary discussions but decided to build a new stadium on the site of their current ground at White Hart Lane.

But the election of Johnson in 2008 as London Mayor put having a football club at the Stadium as an anchor tenant back near the top of the agenda.

West Ham's chances will have been boosted by the inclusion last month of the Stadium in the plans of England 2018 if their bid to host the World Cup is successful.

Baroness Margaret Ford, the chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, had also said when she took over her new role last June that she wanted to return to the subject of a major football club moving into the Stadium.

Sir Robin believes that if West Ham became the new owners of the stadium it would help England's World Cup bid.

He said: "It would boost England's bid to hold the 2018 football World Cup to boot as the stadium would have to be adapted for football.

"Having hosted one of the greatest sporting shows on earth why not help hold the other too?"

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West Ham United want to resume talks over moving into Olympic Stadium
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June 2009: Olympic legacy chief wants 2012 Stadium to host World Cup
October 2008: Tottenham rule out Olympic Stadium move as Rogge reopens the debate
October 2008: UK Athletics chief confident that Olympic Stadium will have legacy for his sport

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