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Olympic Stadium: Architect ended Hammers plan

Thu 16th Feb 2012 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

The architect of the Olympic Stadium says he is the man behind the anonymous complaint which derailed West Ham's bid for the stadium.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News, Steve Lawrence said he complained to the EU Commission because he felt the bidding process for the future use of the stadium was "opaque" and could lead to a heavy burden on the taxpayer.

He believed a joint athletics-football legacy would never generate the cash needed to sustain the stadium.

West Ham FC along with Newham Council were granted tenancy of the stadium after the 2012 Games in February last year.

Rival bidders Tottenham and Leyton Orient launched a judicial review against the decision shortly after, claiming a £40 million loan Newham Council made to West Ham FC amounted to unfair state aid to a commercial firm.

The government cited the anonymous complaint as their reason for collapsing the deal. They claimed European litigation could paralyse the legacy for years. However Lawrence disputes the government's reasoning over the collapsing of the deal.

He said: "I identified the problem very early on at the beginning of 2011. If it had been dealt with properly and had they listened I wouldn't have needed to make the complaint because they would have been dealing with the issue.

"My feeling is that they used the complaint as an excuse for pulling out in advance of the judicial review (with Spurs and Leyton Orient) as they knew they were going to lose."

Lawrence has been left frustrated by the procedure: "I felt that this could bring about great change and I saw this process turning into a debacle and it was not generating a sensible legacy. In its present form with athletics only, it's definitely not viable. As things stand we will be supporting the Olympic stadium for the next 100 years."

Lawrence's solution would be to build an athletics stadium where the warm up track will be and then allow the stadium to be converted for football only use, possibly with joint tenancy for West Ham and Leyton Orient.

"My recommendation is to take a step back, take a good look at it and then I think we can wind up with a genuine legacy," he concluded.

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