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Page last updated at 23:49 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Legal hurdle for West Ham's 2012 stadium plan

The London 2012 Olympic Stadium
West Ham are keen for a move to the Olympic Stadium

Ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone believes West Ham co-owner David Gold's idea to move the club to the 2012 stadium faces serious legal obstacles.

Livingstone helped London win the 2012 Olympics arguing that the stadium would be an athletics venue after the Games.

"There's a legally binding contract between the Mayor and the International Olympic Committee that the stadium will be an athletics venue," he said.

The IOC would also have to approve any change in the stadium's usage.

"If we had said we were building a football stadium, we would not have won," Livingstone told BBC Radio 5 live.

However, Gold has received political support for his idea from Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham.

One other possibility is to abandon the athletic idea altogether and maybe build a small athletics stadium that can be used for ever

West Ham co-owner David Gold

The Newham Mayor said he "would like West Ham to be in there", adding it was a "sensible solution".

The Newham borough is home to the Premier League team's Upton Park ground as well as the Olympic Stadium, which will host two-thirds of the events at the 2012 Games.

Wales, who sits on the boards of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and Games organiser Locog, said: "My view is to develop the stadium as a football stadium in legacy and use the money from West Ham and the developers to then build a proper athletics offer in London.

He believes there could be "a problem with the legacy" if the club did not move into the £450m stadium.

Gold maintains that a deal for West Ham to relocate there remains a "serious possibility".

"I'm sensing an easing of the stance that it should be a legacy to athletics," the West Ham co-owner told BBC Radio 5 live.

"We have to be more pragmatic. Do we want to have a stadium like we have at Crystal Palace which just deteriorated and rotted away because it wasn't sustainable?

"We believe there is a serious possibility that we could strike a deal that would take West Ham to the Olympic Stadium.

"If that can be done, we would have a super stadium that could take the club to the next level."

Gold and co-owner David Sullivan took over the cash-strapped club last month and immediately confirmed their interest in relocating to the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Stratford as they try to improve the club finances.

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell has insisted that keeping the stadium as a grand prix athletics venue was one of the reasons that London bid for the Games, and keeping the running track at the stadium to leave a legacy to athletics in East London remained a strong commitment.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company is to shortly invite bids from businesses that want to apply for a commercial stake in the stadium.

The Ghost of Thierry Henry

Gold had also floated the idea of West Ham moving to the Olympic venue and then building a separate stadium that could be used for athletic events.

"One other possibility is to abandon the athletic idea altogether and maybe build a small athletics stadium that can be used for ever," he said.

"Not as an Olympic athletics stadium but a regional stadium with seating facility commensurate to their requirements which would be about 5,000."

However, UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner accused the Hammers co-owner of being "patronising".

"When we are told we can go to a little regional athletics stadium, I think this is another example of football rather arrogantly thinking it has all the solutions to sports problems in the UK," said Warner.

The Games are about leaving an "iconic venue for athletes of all ages and abilities to aspire to compete in", he added.

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see also
Stadium move setback for West Ham
17 Feb 10 |  West Ham
The man with the Gold-en touch?
22 Feb 10 |  West Ham
Olympic legacy plans 'unclear'
16 Feb 10 |  London
Coe firm on post-2012 stadium aim
11 Feb 10 |  West Ham
West Ham revive Olympic stadium hopes
03 Feb 10 |  West Ham
Bonds against Hammers stadium bid
20 Jan 10 |  West Ham
West Ham want Olympic venue move
19 Jan 10 |  London
Gold & Sullivan take over Hammers
19 Jan 10 |  West Ham
Coe eyes 2012 stadium for Worlds
27 Nov 09 |  Athletics
Minister makes 2012 stadium vow
09 Jul 09 |  Olympics
Academy option for 2012 stadium
15 Jan 09 |  Olympics
2012 stadium could house Hammers
20 Apr 06 |  Olympics 2012
West Ham in talks on 2012 stadium
20 Oct 06 |  West Ham

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