Spurs Olympic challenge clears first hurdle

Tottenham given leave to continue legal challenge over West Ham's "state-aided" bid to take charge of Olympic Stadium.

    West Ham and Spurs were on-field rivals before the Hammers' relegation last season [GALLO/GETTY]

    Tottenham Hotspur may yet prise the Olympic Stadium away from West Ham United after a court approved the club's legal challenge of their former English premier League rivals' winning bid.

    The dispute could jeopardise London's bid to host the 2017 athletics World Championships at the venue, with the IAAF set to chose between the British capital, Barcelona and Doha on November 11.

    The Olympic Park Legacy Company selected West Ham over Spurs in February as the preferred tenants of the $800-million stadium after the 2012 Olympics.

    But Tottenham are questioning the decision by West Ham's local authority to provide a $65.5 million loan to fund the second-tier club's move into the east London venue from their current ground, Upton Park.

    London's High Court ruled at an initial hearing Wednesday that Tottenham had an "arguable" case to challenge the loan at a full hearing later in the year.

    Tottenham's lawyer, Dinah Rose, said Newham Counil's loan had given West Ham an unfair economic advantage and amounted to "state aid."

    "West Ham was not and is not itself in a financial position to borrow 40 million pounds ($65.5 million) from a private lender or to make a bid for the stadium on its own, as Newham itself recognised," Rose told the court.

    Rose added that the club's accounts showed "that it had short and long-term debts of 104 million pounds ($170 million), most of which were due in the next three years."

    West Ham's bid to downsize the stadium from 80,000 to 60,000 seats won in part because it fulfils Olympic organisers' promise to retain the running track after the Olympics.

    Tottenham had wanted to rebuild the stadium and remove the athletics facilities as part of a joint bid with American sports and entertainment giant AEG.

    But the north London club has also resurrected plans to build a new stadium next to its current White Hart Lane base by applying for public funding.

    SOURCE: AP


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