Hammers must make long-term track promise

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West Ham will have to guarantee to keep the running track at the Olympic Stadium for the long term after the club were formally confirmed as winners of the race to take over the venue after the London 2012 Games.

Hugh Robertson, the minister of sport and the Olympics, said the Hammers would not be permitted to scrap the track after just a few years if they were unhappy with its impact on the venue for football matches.

Asked if the Hammers would have to provide guarantees that they would not dispose of the track at a later date, Robertson said: "That would be a clear danger so guarantees of that sort have been sought."

He added: "The provision of the running track is an integral part of the West Ham-Newham, UK Athletics-backed proposal and OPLC will be seeking guarantees that that will be delivered."

The unanimous decision to back the Hammers' bid was announced by the OPLC following a four-hour board meeting this morning but was widely expected after it became known that officials working for the legacy company favoured that option.


That infuriated Tottenham who are keeping their powder dry over possible legal action. OPLC chair Baroness Margaret Ford insisted there was no "fait accompli" and that board members had gone through a thorough process, while Robertson said he hoped Spurs would not go down the legal route.

Robertson added: "I sincerely hope not. When you have been through a process like this which has been pretty robust and pretty competitive people say things in the heat of battle.

"I hope when everybody has calmed down and had a think about this that that will not be necessary. It is quite a big step for any football club to take a Government to judicial review."

The minister also dismissed suggestions by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy that there may have been interference from politicians in the decision.

"If he thinks there has been political interference he will have to bring forward evidence to support that. From my point of view I can't see any political interference at all. The Government has been absolutely at arms-length in this process," said Robertson, who added that Tottenham's alternative athletics plan at Crystal Palace had been given a fair hearing," he added.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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