(N38) Spurs will not sell up if they win stadium bid, says Levy: The Guardian Friday 4th February 2011 by Owen Gibson
Spurs will not sell up if they win stadium bid, says Levy
The Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy, has denied there is any secret plan to sell the club if they move to the site of the Olympic Stadium and has voiced fears about undue political influence on the bidding process.
It is understood Spurs will consider the possibility of a legal challenge if they are not chosen as the preferred bidder by the Olympic Park Legacy Company when it delivers its decision next week.
Levy yesterday voiced "concerns" that emotive interventions by Lord Coe and Tessa Jowell about the removal of the athletics track could give rise to political interference. "If this was being run by an investment bank, I'd be very comfortable that we'd meet all the criteria and the decision would be favourable because it would be based on objective criteria," Levy said. "The OPLC say this will be an objective process and I have to take them at their word. I don't like all the stuff that's around it, all the emotive stuff being said by certain people.
"I have concerns about whether this is going to influence the decision. They should let the process run its course. There's no point setting up a body that's in charge of the park in its legacy form if you're going to interfere with it. Let them do their job."
Levy underlined the economic strength of the Spurs bid, promising to provide "significant rental streams to the government". He vowed to invest "tens of millions" in rebuilding and maintaining Crystal Palace as well as spending "tens of millions" more on funding seven key Olympic sports and establishing a legacy fund for athletics.
West Ham propose to retain the track, a plan that Spurs claim is not sustainable, whereas the north London club will take down the existing structure and build a dedicated football stadium. UK Athletics and athletes have slammed the Spurs plan to provide an athletics legacy by refurbishing Crystal Palace.
"What's the point of having something you know doesn't work?" Levy said. "It is going to come back and bite you. I hope the decision makers will take a long-term decision. This isn't about today, this is about five, 10, 15 years from now."
During an increasingly acrimonious campaign, Spurs have attempted to raise the prospect of West Ham removing the track in years to come if it proves unviable. West Ham, partnered with Newham council, insist that the lease arrangements and penalty clauses would prevent that.
"There is not one example where athletics and soccer work together," Levy said. "Even if there is a £100m penalty if they take it away, it's irrelevant. If in five years' time there's a major problem, they will have to deal with it because they'll be the only game in town."
There have been rumours that the move to the Olympic Park is part of a plan to sell Spurs. There has been rumoured interest from Qatar, while others believe AEG, the 02 operator that is partnering Tottenham in the scheme, would like to buy the club once the move is complete.
Daniel Levy has fears over political influence on the stadium bid process.
"There is no truth whatsoever in any form of conversation with anybody about selling the club," Levy said. "No one gives guarantees on the future. We're a public company with 30,000 shareholders. I can never give an undertaking that [majority owner] Joe Lewis, myself or Harry Redknapp will be here in two years or 10 years. But we haven't put this amount of effort into building Tottenham with the intention of moving it on to someone else."
He unequivocally ruled out any interest from AEG: "They have no interest in buying Tottenham."
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6/2/2011 Last updated 6/2/2011