Tottenham at loggerheads with Coe over Olympic track

TOTTENHAM are on collision course with Lord Coe over the Olympic Stadium after it emerged yesterday their bid to move into the arena does not include keeping the running track.

Coe, a key figure in bringing the 2012 Games to London and chairman of the Organising Committee, has insisted that preserving the stadium’s ability to host athletics is “non-negotiable”.

But AEG, the entertainment company which runs the O2 and has submitted a joint bid with Tottenham, revealed they would scrap the track if they move into the stadium in Stratford.

Tim Leiweke, AEG’s president and chairman, said: “I think it is a crime if you sacrifice having a perfect football stadium for convincing yourself you are going to do a track and field event every 10 years.”

AEG Europe chief executive David Campbell added: “If you get a premier football team you cannot have a running track around the stadium.”

Spurs declined to comment but City A.M. understands that the club is very unlikely to consider any arrangement that includes retaining the track.

Five years ago Tottenham walked away from discussions about moving into the Olympic stadium because they were told they would have to keep the facility.

And their plans for a new ground next to current home White Hart Lane were specifically drawn up with the closeness of the crowd to the pitch in mind – a factor a running track would severely impede.

Tottenham and AEG submitted their bid on Thursday, the cut-off point for interested parties, as a back-up option in case their plans to build a new stadium fall through.

A spokesperson for the Olympic Park Legacy Company, which will decide the fate of the 80,000-seater stadium, told City A.M. that it was “not compulsory” for bidders to include a provision to retain the track.

But Coe has always pledged, as part of London’s legacy commitments for 2012, that it would remain an athletics venue, regardless of its new occupants. “It’s non-negotiable that this is a track and field facility,” he said in February.

Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes was shown around the stadium by Coe last month and told City A.M.: “The way it’s going to go is the track will stay.”

Fellow top-flight club West Ham have also bid for the stadium but have promised to retain the track.