West Ham Gets Boost In Olympic Stadium Quest After NFL's Proposal Is Thrown Out
EPL West Ham United has "received a boost" in its bid to move into London's Olympic Stadium after the NFL's proposal to become anchor tenants "was thrown out," according to Joe Ridge of the London DAILY MAIL. The NFL was "willing to share the stadium with other sports and events" but was told that it "could not have the exclusive access to the venue" from September to January. The NFL felt it needed those dates to "prepare and host consecutive games." In another twist, Mayor Boris Johnson -- the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corp. that operates the stadium -- "confirmed rumors" that the stadium will not be re-opened until '16. Johnson said on Wednesday that it was ''highly unlikely'' that the stadium would be converted and ready for use again before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro meaning that, incredibly, it will "take longer to convert the stadium than it did to build it" (DAILY MAIL, 11/14).
WEST HAM STILL FAVORITE: In London, Robin Scott-Elliot wrote U.K. Athletics Chair Ed Warner described the delay in re-opening the Olympic Stadium as a “Stratford farce.” A decision over which of the four bidders will be given a 99-year lease is "expected early next month" with West Ham "the strong favourites." The "ever-lengthening delay has been sharply criticised by Warner," who believes that it also puts Johnson’s reputation "at risk." Warner said, "West Ham have been phenomenally patient over the last few months. I would urge those making the decision to please get on and do it. Get it open" (INDEPENDENT, 11/14). The PA reported U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said the issue was "closing the financial gap" because West Ham does not want to pay for the retractable seating which could push the cost up to £200M ($317M) (PA, 11/14).
INVESTIGATORS CHARGED WITH FRAUD: In London, Paul Kelso reported investigators hired by EPL Tottenham to help its bid for the Olympic Stadium "have been charged with fraud after allegedly obtaining the private telephone records of West Ham Dir Karren Brady illegally." Former accounting firm PKF partner Howard Hill resigned in December and was arrested in January after Brady and Olympic Park Legacy Company directors "alleged that their private phone and other records had been accessed." The phone records and other details "were passed to the Sunday Times," which published an expose of the bidding process, including "details of payments made by West Ham to a director of the OPLC for consultancy work" (TELEGRAPH, 11/14). The BBC reported three people "have been charged over allegations of spying" during the bid for the Olympic stadium. The three men are "charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation." The charges come after allegations that Tottenham "spied on Olympic officials during the bidding process." The club "has denied the claims" (BBC, 11/14).