The mayor of London Boris Johnson has this week urged Tottenham to accept a £17 million package to drop their legal battle with West Ham United over the future of the Olympic stadium, and instead stay in North London. Is this really enough of an incentive to end their Olympic fight?
Spurs have been embroiled in a long running battle with West Ham over who should move into the Olympic stadium, once the London 2012 games are over. There is a court hearing set for October 18th in an effort to overturn a decision to let West Ham move in. The case is based around the issue of whether West Ham United receiving a £40 million loan from Newham Council to finance the move, constituted state aid. In terms of the amount of money West Ham look like they will receive for the move, and the amount of financial help other clubs have received when developing in deprived areas, the package of £17 million offered to Spurs is almost an insult, but in the current financial climate it is better than nothing.
The whole reason Spurs looked into moving into the Olympic Stadium in the first place was due to financial reasons, with the Olympic Stadium move potentially saving them half the amount of the Northumberland Park project. If they are to back out now, then the whole campaign would have been a huge waste of time and money. If Spurs were to overturn the Olympic stadium decision then they would save more than the £17 million offered by the Mayor of London, but there are other factors that need to be considered.
Tottenham have always had the option on the table of regenerating their own White Hart Lane ground, however this stumbled after problems with the local council and suggestions by Daniel Levy that the deal was no longer financially viable. If the deal wasn’t finacially viable, then I’m not sure how £17 million is going to ease their worries, especially when the whole package could cost them upwards of £400 million.
The Northumberland Park Development, would help to regenerate one of the most run down areas of London and kick-start a much wider scale of regeneration that would boost the local economy, as well as create jobs in the area. The stumbling block on the development has been with financial matters and transport issues, which could in some ways be resolved with the package offered to Tottenham. The deal on the table from the Mayor of London, would see him pay £8.5 million, with the other £8.5 million coming from local Haringey Council. This package would be used on infrastructure and for the improved transport links around the new 56,000 seat stadium. It would be disastrous for the area were Tottenham to pull out, and it has always been their first intention to stay in the area, if it could be achieved. If the deal can ease some of the problems that caused them to look into making the Olympic stadium bid, then they should take it.
With the new regeneration likely to cost Spurs upwards of £400 million, the £17 million offered on the table is probably of little comfort, however the fact it is being offered at all in the current financial climate is a bonus. Some would suggest that football clubs are rich enough, and shouldn’t receive any financial aid at all, however the development does offer a huge amount for the local community and this has to be taken into account. The deal on the table is clearly better for Spurs than them coming out of this whole sorry affair with nothing at all. It would relieve the club of all community infrastructure payments that planners normally require as well as fund the regeneration in Tottenham itself. If the deal eases some of the problems they originally encountered with the development then they should accept it.
Considering the majority of fans were not too keen on the move out of North London, and the fact that they have already invested considerable time and money (£85 million) on assembling land and planning for the Northumberland Park project, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to just take the deal and draw a line under the whole sorry Olympic stadium fiasco.
Do you think Spurs should take the deal and end their Olympic Stadium battle? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or following me on Twitter @LaurenRutter for more comment and debate.
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