West Ham set for Olympic Stadium win

l Hammers tipped to beat Tottenham in fight to move into £530m venue after London 2012 Games l Key figures in Olympic Park Legacy Company thought to have made up minds to back West Ham l Tottenham proposal to knock down and then rebuild venue without running track looks doomed

WEST HAM are expected to be confirmed as the preferred bidder for the Olympic Stadium when legacy chiefs meet tomorrow.

The Hammers have been locked in a lengthy and increasingly bitter fight with top-flight rivals Tottenham to move into the venue after the 2012 Games.

And last night it looked increasingly likely that the east London outfit will win the duel, which would mean athletics staying at the Stratford stadium.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) insisted that no decision could possibly be made until tomorrow, when its 14-man board is due to meet and vote on the two bids. And it is understood that Spurs had last night not been contacted by the OPLC.

Yet there was a growing feeling key figures within the OPLC had made up their minds, with suggestions that West Ham’s pledge to retain the stadium’s running track had proved decisive.

Tomorrow’s decision will be the OPLC’s final one, and will then be passed to the Mayor of London and the government for rubber-stamping. However it is thought highly unlikely that they will intervene.

West Ham intend to spend around £90m on converting the stadium from an 80,000-seater venue to one that holds 60,000 after next summer’s sporting extravaganza. Their campaign, led by Karren Brady (left) has been based on their pledge to host other sports, particularly athletics, at the ground. The track will stay, despite critics arguing that it hinders football spectators, while Essex County Cricket Club could also play there.

The Hammers and their supporters have argued that keeping the track means they will fulfil the legacy promises included in London’s bid to host the Games.

Tottenham, meanwhile, and chairman Daniel Levy (left) have argued in favour of knocking down the stadium and rebuilding it without a track as a football-only venue.

They believe that is the only way of keeping the venue financially viable without placing a further burden on the taxpayer.

In order to satisfy the legacy element, they proposed a major redevelopment of the run-down facilities at Crystal Palace. They also have the backing of AEG, the entertainments giant which successfully converted the Millennium Dome into the successful O2.

NEED TO KNOW: BID DECISION

Q&A

Q.HOW IS THE DECISION OVER WHO GETS THE STADIUM MADE?
A.The Olympic Park Legacy Company, which has been examining the bids for several months, will meet tomorrow to make its final decision. The company’s 14 board members will then vote on which proposal they think is best. However it is thought that they will be told that only West Ham’s bid matches all of the criteria. The decision is then passed to the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State to be finalised.

Q.WHAT ARE THE FIVE CRITERIA THAT BIDS ARE JUDGED ON?
A.They are: 1) A viable long-term solution for the stadium that is deliverable and provides value for money; 2) A partner with the capability to deliver and operate a legacy solution for a venue of its size and complexity; 3) To re-open the stadium for use as soon after 2012 Games as possible; 4) To ensure the stadium remains a distinctive physical symbol supporting the economic, physical and social regeneration of the area; 5) To allow flexible use of the stadium, including a range of events and allowing year-round access for schools, the public and elite sport.

Q.CAN THE LOSING BIDDER CHALLENGE THE DECISION?
A.In theory the losing bidder could seek to appeal the decision through the Premier League, who must ratify any club relocation. However the signs are that it wouldn’t block either bid. More likely is that the losing bidder would explore its legal options. It could seek a judicial review of the OPLC’s verdict on the basis that the decision was not fair, although that could prove a costly and lengthy process with no guarantee of success.