Exclusive: UK Athletics chairman welcomes Tottenham decision to drop legal challenge to Olympic Stadium
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
August 24 - Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, has welcomed the news that Tottenham Hotspur are today expected to drop their legal challenge over the Olympic Stadium, which will help clear up the uncertainty which is threatening to derail London's bid to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
The club are due in the High Court later today seeking a judicial review over the Olympic Park Legacy Company's (OPLC) choice to hand the Stadium to West Ham United.
But intense negotiations have been taking place with London Mayor Boris Johnson over funding for Tottenham to move from their current ground at White Hart Lane, their home since 1899, and into a new development nearby at a site in Northumberland Park.
If a satisfactory conclusion can be reached then the Premier League club are expected to end their objections to the OPLC decison.
"I'd be really pleased," Warner told insidethegames at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress which he is attending here.
"I've taken the view all long that the advice that has been given is that their [Tottenham] case is really weak but when things are in the hands of the courts, of course, you don't know.
"The move last week to say we are bidding [for the 2017 World Championships] come what may was clearly an important one from our perspective.
"But if this leads to a final tidying up of all the challenges then it allows us to do what we have to do in the next ten weeks which is focus on a really concerted campaign to win votes.
"It's a relatively short lobbying campaign so any distractions we can clear them out of the way would be really welcome."
A High Court judge had already turned down Tottenham's first appeal for a judicial review.
They had only turned their attention to the Olympic Stadium after escalating costs, particularly related to transport, had made the Northumberland Park plan financially impractical.
But public money could now be freed as part of the regeneration of Tottenham following the recent riots to help the plan go ahead.
Businesses had feared that if Tottenham moved from the area it would badly affect their futures while the majority of the club's fans were against the contorversial switch from North to East London.
The London riots earlier this month started in Tottenham following the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan and a protest march to a police station.
Trouble flared and quickly spread around the capital.
Tottenham had already applied to the Government's Regional Growth Fund for a grant to cover costs which would be associated with moving to Northumberland Park.
They include upgrading public transport and providing training and employment opportunities for local people.
The only potential obstacle left to West Ham's move into the Olympic Stadium after London 2012 is an objection from League One club Leyton Orient.
They claim that if West Ham are allowed to move into the Stadium and offer special cut-price tickets it could affect their attendances so badly it could jeopardise their future.
Barry Hearn, Orient's chairman, has taken his case to the European Union but there are doubts over whether he can afford to fund an expensive legal challenge.
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