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A very British farce

Filed: Thursday, 15th November 2012
By: Staff Writer

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has referred to the ongoing uncertainty over the future of the Olympic Stadium as 'a Stratford farce'.

Warner, who as Chiarman of the organising committe is responsible for organising the 2017 athletics World Championships hit out today in the wake of news that the arena is unlikely to open before 2016 - the same year as the NEXT Olympic Games are due to take place in Rio.

"Any talk of [waiting until] 2016 is concerning, not for the 2017 World Championships but for getting other events there," he said. "I want a decision.

"We want the Diamond League meeting in there, we want our trials in there, we want to see kids' athletics in the stadium - just as I know West Ham want to see football in the stadium.

"I wouldn't say this is a Whitehall farce, it's fast becoming a Stratford farce. To my mind there is one absolutely viable option which is multi-use, just get on with it and use it.

"There is another very viable option and I think our friends at West Ham have been phenomenally patient over the last few months. Whichever of those two routes is taken works for UK Athletics - but get it over with.

"We have a programme of events which that stadium can host, which we had planned to start in the summer of 2014. We don't really want a race with the Rio opening ceremony to the reopening of the London Olympic Stadium."

Meanwhile Sports Minister Hugh Robertson appeared to suggest that a deal with West Ham was close to reaching fruition - although there were some hurdles that still needed to be negotiated.

"There is a commercial negotiation going on with West Ham and it's a question of how quickly the Mayor and the Legacy Company can close the gap," he said.

"There is a package on the table which includes the conversion costs that were built into the budget and a contribution from the local authority and some money that West Ham might put into it.

"Then there is the bill for all the things they would ideally want to do to have what they would see as a modern stadium."

Central to West Ham's plans for the new-look Olympic Stadium is retractable seating, which will cost around 200million to install. However the Treasury recently ruled out using some of the excess funds previously allocated to the Olympic Games for this purpose.

West Ham are said to have offered an initial lump sum plus an annual rent of around 2million to take control of the stadium, but believe that as tenants the brunt of redevelopment costs should be provided by the landlord - the LLDC.

Take part in the ongoing debate about the club's potential move to Stratford on the KUMB.com Olympic Stadium forum.

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