West Ham Olympic stadium seats plan backed

image captionWest Ham will keep athletics in east London and leave the running track untouched

West Ham can have retractable seating for the Olympic stadium provided it can fulfil its promise to athletics, sports minister Hugh Robertson said.

Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) executives chose the club's bid over a rival proposal from Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.

West Ham United are considering the seating to ensure the stadium is viable for football and athletics.

Mr Robertson said West Ham's seating proposal was "fair enough."

West Ham are happy for the athletics track to be kept in the stadium and for the venue to be used for a variety of sports and concerts.

Tottenham's plans were to dismantle the stadium in Stratford and build a new football ground in its place.

'Modern stadium'

The Olympics minister told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek he did not believe the issue of the running track would cause problems to football fans at the stadium, and said West Ham could have retractable seating so long as they kept their promises to athletics.

He added: "People tend to think of a 1980s mixed-use stadium. This is a much more modern stadium, the sight lines are much better, the fans are much closer to centre spot than the outer seats at Wembley.

"Anybody who has stood in the middle of where the pitch will be will tell you that it looks much, much better. If West Ham want to bring in retractable seating and can still fulfil the promises they made to athletics then that's fair enough."

The decision must now be ratified by two government departments and the mayor of London.

Mr Robertson confirmed the government was close to ratifying the choice of West Ham to take over the Olympic Stadium.

The minister said he had studied the papers produced by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), which selected West Ham as the preferred bidder over Tottenham on Friday, and said he had been satisfied the process had been done correctly.

"There is a process to go through but West Ham are clearly in the lead," he added.

"We want to make a formal announcement to Parliament but we know the clock is ticking and we want to get it done as quickly as possible."

West Ham, currently bottom of the Premier League, said they would keep athletics in east London and leave the running track untouched.

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