Filed: Tuesday, 11th October 2011
By: Staff Writer
Sports minister Hugh Robertson has claimed that Newham Council's decision to withdraw from the Olympic Stadium bidding process was 'the straw that broke the camel's back'.
Robertson confirmed this morning that speculation surrounding West Ham's aborted move to Stratford - a joint bid with Newham Council - was indeed correct.
The basis for the change in policy was said to be triggered by a letter from Newham Council who, despite backing West Ham all the way previously, said they were ready to withdraw from the bidding process.
"The key point is the action we have taken today is about removing the uncertainty," Robertson said. "The process had become bogged down in legal paralysis.
"Particularly relevant has been an anonymous complaint to the EC over 'state aid' - and the OPLC received a letter from Newham Council yesterday saying because of the uncertainty they no longer wanted to proceed.
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back and we thought it better to stop it dead in it tracks now.
"We know there is huge interest in the stadium out there from private operators and football clubs and crucially we remove any uncertainty. This is not a white elephant stadium where no one wants it, we have had two big clubs fighting tooth and nail to get it."
As a result, should United wish to continue with the move - which will almost certainly have lost any large-scale backing it had from supporters of the club - the board will have to re-apply for tenancy on a regular (to be confirmed) basis, instead of holding the previously-agreed 125-year lease.
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