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UK Athletics boss Ed Warner boosts West Ham's 2012 plan

The London 2012 Olympic Stadium
West Ham's renewed interest in the 2012 site has reopened the legacy debate

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner says West Ham's proposal to use the 2012 Olympic Stadium is "very credible."

The £537m site is set to be reduced from 80,000 seats to 25,000 after 2012, with athletics as its primary use.

But Hammers owners David Sullivan and David Gold are behind controversial plans to move the club to Stratford.

And Warner told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek: "West Ham have put their hat in the ring. It's a very credible proposal and one worth looking at."

He added: "It would work as a football stadium."

West Ham have held talks with the local Newham Council over a joint bid to occupy the stadium, with a proposed 50,000-capacity for football matches, after the 2012 Games.

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But several high-profile figures, including Olympic and world heptathlon bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone have questioned switching its use from athletics to football.

Livingstone helped London win the 2012 Games by arguing the stadium would stay an athletics venue, but he warned that any change in use could run into serious legal difficulties with the need for International Olympic Committee approval.

American sports and entertainment company AEG, the owners of the O2 Arena, is just one of more than 100 parties to have expressed an interest in assuming control of the venue.

Potential bidders have until 17 May to register their interest with a final shortlist of about 30 to be announced in March 2011.

And Warner admitted the West Ham bid will be among those demanding serious consideration.

"I'm very excited about what it will be as a venue and there are some very interesting proposals coming forward," he said.

"West Ham have already put their hat in the ring already, they haven't formerly submitted their letter yet, but they are clearly very interested and working hard.

"I've spent a lot of time with them I think that it is going to be a very credible proposal and certainly one we could work with, there may well be others."

Warner has previously been outspoken over Gold's suggestion that a separate, much smaller venue should be built to house future athletics events, allowing West Ham to lease the Olympic Stadium.

But he now believes reducing capacity and reconfiguring seating at the 2012 arena would make it viable for both athletics and football to exist together.

"Those people who said football won't work in the Olympic Stadium haven't stood in the middle of the Olympics Stadium, which I've done a number of times," he added.

Ed Warner
Warner has been UK Athletics chairman since March 2007

"If you stand in there you realise for an 80,000 stadium it is actually very compact and you could certainly reduce the capacity without cutting the infrastructure of the stadium.

"I think it will feel great as a football stadium and I speak as a football fan as well the chairman of UK Athletics.

"I think you'd find West Ham would cover the track in the winter season so it wouldn't look like you had a track between you and the pitch.

"I think it works very well. You have to stand there and see it to believe it. I think West Ham have stood there, thought about it and really think it would work for them."



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see also
AEG interested in Olympic Stadium
04 May 10 |  Olympics
2012 Olympic Stadium pictures
15 Apr 10 |  Olympics
Essex ponder Olympic Stadium use
15 Apr 10 |  Essex
Sullivan slams 2012 stadium plan
18 Mar 10 |  Olympics
London bids to stage 2015 Worlds
15 Mar 10 |  Athletics
Hammers venue plan irks Sotherton
24 Feb 10 |  West Ham
West Ham stadium plan hit by snag
22 Feb 10 |  West Ham
Stadium move setback for West Ham
17 Feb 10 |  West Ham
West Ham in talks on 2012 stadium
20 Oct 06 |  West Ham
Hammers keen on Olympic move
16 Jan 04 |  West Ham


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