By Tony Attwood
We’ve talked a lot off and on about the Olympic stadium – a stadium which by the EPL’s own rules can only go to The Orient, since they are the local team (and before you ask, no, such rules did not exist when Woolwich Arsenal moved from Plumstead to Highbury).
But Tottenham, as we know have made a big deal of all this, because although they have planning permission to rebuild WHL they don’t want to do this, and would sooner kick out the running track at the Olympic Stadium and play there.
Now what I didn’t realise in following this story was that there was a bid in for some big athletics do-dah in a few years time. The Eternal Verity Lord Coe has put in another bid (he knocks them out in his spare time on friday afternoons) this one being for the 2017 World Athletics Championships and we’ve beat a middle eastern state to hold the games at the Olympic what-not.
So if Tottenham had won the bid to move to the Olympic venue they wouldn’t have been able to until 2017 – which is six or so years away by my counting. I wonder if they knew.
I am also reminded about the bullish way in which ministers have castigated other Olympic sites for being left to rot after the show is over (take a look at Athens, or tragically some of the world cup venues in South Africa). Now they have a stadium, no tenant and a need to hold onto it in the current form until 2017.
Big sporting events create stadia that subsequently no one wants. Not always (the Olympic swimming pool in my local town of Corby is there and seems to be flourishing, and doing a lot for the local community) but quite often. (Actually they don’t always create new stadia – apparently the ones in the Ukraine aren’t finished, and nor are the railways or airports, so going to the Euros next summer is going to be a pain. Fortunately I am not planning to go, although I am sure the Ukraine is a nice place.
But moving on we have Chelsea and QPR looking for new grounds, and Fulham wanting to develop part of their ground. (If you have read Making the Arsenal you will know that the architect/site manager Leitch worked on both Chelsea’s ground and Fulham’s at the same time. Quite a feat!)
Ken Bates (for reasons that have never become clear to me) set up a separate company owned by lots of fans, that owns the pitch at Stamford Bridge, and they have to agree to sell. Mr Abramovich doesn’t want to build a new ground if he can’t sell off the existing ground. I think some of the shares are owned by non-Chelsea fans, or by Chelsea fans with a real sense of tradition, because they said no.
I am not sure if that is odd or not. Chelsea, like Thames Association (whom we covered on the Arsenal History site last week) were clubs created to fill a stadium, rather than being like Arsenal, Fulham, Tottenham or Orient, created by local people who wanted to play football. (WHU is different again, as they were created by a paternalist factory owner who wanted his work force to engage in healthy exercise, rather than being down the pub. Brentford were created by a cricket team who wanted to do something in the winter – they took a vote and football got fractionally more votes than rugby. But I digress).
The matter at Chelsea is confused by the fact that the register of owners of shares in the ground is horribly out of date and not in digital form, (some people who are no longer with us are listed) and the fact that shares are still available, and so can be bought. What’s more a few members of the “no” campaign have said that anyone whose name appears on the “role of honour” on the supposed new stadium, because they voted yes will be “dealt with”.
Fulham have announced quite a radical approach to expanding their ground, which includes (and I quote from their web site) the need to expand into the River Thames. Which sounds like fun. What would Henry Norris have made of that?
Meanwhile in other venue news, there’s Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park, where the local council has agreed to pay £1.6m for Home Park and rent it back to the club for £135,000 a year. This is after the club bought the ground from the council for £2.7m in 2006. Pesky things, grounds
Swansea City play at a council-owned ground too, rented to Swansea City and the Ospreys, and run at a loss.
Actually I think Corby Town’s lovely new stadium, opened for this season is also run by my local council at a loss. But in this case I don’t mind, even though I am paying for it. The town is rebuilding itself after years of neglect and a decent football stadium for a Conference club is a good bonus.
The Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster is much the same I think.
And now we know Tottenham want to have public money (actually offered by Boris, the London Mayor, to build their stadium. Worse, they are saying, “if Arsenal can have public money, why can’t Tottenham?” Not that they expect to get it, but it is just another Tiny Publicity Stunt against Arsenal, of the type they have been running ever since they came seventh in the Southern League and got elected to the Football League, while the clubs above them didn’t. They were so embarrassed they decided to blame Arsenal for getting promoted to the first division when we came fifth in the second. (Confused? yes they are like that down the Seven Sisters.)
What is shocking about Tottenham is that they want public money to help them build a stadium. That is disgusting, disgraceful and awful. That’s why I keep the campaign against dreadful idea running on this site.
But I admit I am torn – I like the fact that the local council built my town’s club a new ground as part of the redevelopment of the area. I like the fact that Arsenal did it all themselves and are making money out of it at the same time. I like the fact that Chelsea fans said no to the oil multi-billionaire. I like Fulham’s idea to build a stand over the River Thames. I like the fact that Tottenham didn’t seem to realise that even if they wont the Olympic site they could not move into it for years and years and years.
The only bit I don’t like is the the Tinies attempt to get public money in the way Manchester City did in a deal which (in the Man C case) means that despite the owner of that club owning half the world, UK tax payers are still having to pay for that stadium. That’s the one that annoys me. Quite a lot really.
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