Officials will gather on Friday to discuss the future of the Olympic Stadium following the 2012 games, amid claims that Premier League football club West Ham United have already won the race to take it over.
Reports have indicated that officers from the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) favour the east London club’s relocation proposals over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and are set to recommend their bid to the 14 voting board members.
The claims have been dismissed as “pure speculation” by the OPLC, while sources at both football clubs said they had had no confirmation from the company that a recommendation had been made.
A OPLC spokesman said: “It is pure speculation to say that a decision has been made. Our board meets on Friday. There will be presentations by OPLC officers of both bids and a vote to recommend a preferred bidder.”
The meeting could take up to three hours and a final decision will have to get the go-ahead from the Government and the London Mayor. The differences between the two bids for the showpiece £537 million venue in Stratford, east London, centre on the running track – West Ham would keep it while Tottenham would not.
An athletics legacy was a key pledge that London made to the International Olympic Committee when it won the right to stage the 2012 Games.
West Ham, in a joint bid with Newham Council, want to convert the 80,000-seater stadium into a 60,000-capacity arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use.
The contest has become a bitter war of words in recent days. Tottenham’s proposed 60,000-seat new home would be built in place of the Olympic Stadium prompting West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady to declare it would be “a corporate crime to bring the bulldozers in”.
If successful Tottenham, joint bidders with sports and entertainment giant AEG, intend to refurbish an old athletics centre at Crystal Palace as a 25,000-capacity venue for track and field. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy dismissed criticism about its bid as “scaremongering”, adding: “We are proposing one of the most advanced, state-of-the-art stadiums in Europe that will deliver an exceptional spectator experience.”
The aim is for a deal to be struck on the stadium and contracts signed by the end of the financial year.