Chel-batter-sea’s temple of power

Football-orientated-eyes from all over the world were focused on Chelsea during the weekend of  May 19th 2012. The London football club  became world champions after the Champions League final against Bayern München. After a breath taking penalty session, Chelsea won and became officially the best football club worldwide. This has put London and their famous club owned by one of the richests men on earth in a global spotlight. Just in times when the club is exploring new possibilities for a powerful new stadium.

Two weeks ago the football club was already in the news about the submitted bid to buy Battersea Power Station to transform it into a new stadium for the blue team. The Battersea Power Station. Once the scenery of Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals‘ album including the event of  a disturbing and trouble making pig flying around London. Now this might going to be the scenery of football supporters running and cheering around Battersea? Well, eventuality the people who own billion’s can own any power, including a power station.

On the evening of the FA Cup final against Liverpool (4th of May 2012), Chelsea confirmed the existence of a bid on Battersea. Roman Abramovich’s showed his interest in the decommissioned power station with plans to build his own 60.000 seats stadium. For the symbolic price of £1 and the promise to renovate all the chimneys he might turns this icon of London into his icon of power.

It looks a bit like an attempt of Abramovich to become Britian’s next biggest property owner. Just when the world thought he was already creating the biggest venue (read: his home) ever. An 150 million place, which combines 9 different apartments into one incredibly huge house for the Abromovich family. Abramovich is currently the 68th  richest person in the world, according to the 2012 Forbes list, with an estimated fortune of $12.1 B.

Will Abramovich become the owner of the Battersea Power Station? Besides the fact that there is an helicopter landing strip very close to Battersea, which is very useful for Abramovich (unfortunately his own private Boeing can not land there, which is a bit inconvenient, but his yacht with paparazzi reflecting lasers can be parked outside in the Themes).

There need to be plans made for transporting all the football supporters during the sports events. Is Abramovich really turning The Power Station into a stadium? And if he turns it into a stadium, how are all the supporters  arriving there? There is a lack of infrastructure at the moment, which is common knowledge.

Updates will follow as soon.

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Brazil must have booze at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But what about Qatar 2022?

FIFA’s general secretary, Jerome Valcke, paid a visit to Brazil where he made clear the football authority’s position: “Alcoholic drinks are a part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant, but that’s something that we won’t negotiate.”

His comments could well be taken as inflammatory, if not just arrogant, since Brazil has held a policy of prohibition at football stadiums since 2003 in an effort to reduce violence. The fact that Budweiser is a long-term sponsor of FIFA has no doubt some small bearing on this decision-making.

While alcohol can currently be consumed legally in Qatar, there are restrictions. Alcohol can be purchased in a few clubs, bars, certain hotel restaurants; however, to consume alcohol in one’s own home a special license is required. The question of whether the consumption of alcohol will be permitted to in additional areas and at the games themselves has been asked. Hassan Abdulla al Thawadi, chief executive of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid, has said the Muslim state would also permit alcohol consumption during the World Cup. A few specific fan-zones will be set up during the event, they will provide alcohol for sale.

If FIFA are willing to negotiate a few specific fan zones with Qatar, why is there no negotiation in Brazil? It is difficult to believe that any of these decisions were made outside of the bribery and corruption that seem endemic to FIFA. Jerome Valcke was accused in 2011 of letting slip that Qatar ‘bought’ its place as host in 2022, so perhaps Brazil should have bought their right to host the World Cup at a higher price and saved themselves some trouble.

 

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Havelange leaves IOC just days before hearing

Joao Havelange has resigned from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) just days before an ethics commission was due to deliver their findings on allegations he received bribes when FIFA president.

With his resignation the investigation is likely to be dropped on the  grounds that the committee no longer have jurisdiction over him.

Fifa also confirmed Havelange’s resignation adding: “Fifa has taken note of Joao Havelange’s resignation as IOC member and the fact that the IOC has closed the case accordingly.”

The 95-year-old  was the IOC’s longest-serving member having joined in 1963. He served as Fifa president between 1974 and 1978, before he was replaced by Sepp Blatter.

Two other IOC members, International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack and Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football, will have their cases considered by the committee on Thursday.

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Battersea Power Station: a new home for Chelsea FC?

Roman Abramovich is looking to relocate Chelsea FC from Stamford Bridge to the disused Battersea Power Station (BPS). The current site only has capacity for 41,800 spectators and hence it is unable to host an anticipated 60,000. Therefore the Russian oligarch has recently injected a huge sum of money into researching alternative venues.

Apart from BPS, Earls Court & Olympia, White City and Imperial Wharf are all potential sites currently under consideration. However, BPS seems to be most sensible choice due to its convenient size and availability, The Guardian writes.

The final “yes” or “no” is not only up to the Russian as once again Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) are exercising their contractual rights. 12,000 shareholders are legally entitled to the name Chelsea Football Club and if it moves elsewhere, Abramovich needs the CPO’s permission to use this well-known trade name. In order to get them on his side, the oligarch made an offer to CPO on Tuesday promising to give perks of priority rights to purchase season tickets and a roll of honor at the new stadium.

It might be worth mentioning that the US Embassy’s future offices could be right next to Chelsea FC’s new stadium in Battersea and one may wonder if anyone asked the American diplomats for their opinion on rubbing shoulders with football fans…

 

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Spurs and Leyton Orient to launch review over Olympic Stadium


Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient are applying to the high court for a review of the OPLC’s (Olympic Park Legacy Company) decision to award West Ham United the chance to move into the Olympic stadium after the 2012 Olympic games.  One of the reasons for OPLC’s decison to pick West Ham was that they had said in their bid for the stadium, that they would keep the athletics track, whilst Spurs had argued the only viable option was to rebuild the entire stadium as a dedicated football ground.

Leyton Orient’s chairman said. ‘We will shortly apply to the High Court for judicial review and take action against the Premier League for ignoring their own rules.’

A big concern for Leyton Orient is that because of the size of the stadium, West Ham plans to offer discounted tickets. The worry is that this could significantly effect Orients ability to generate ticket revenue since the clubs current home is the Matchroom Stadium just over 2 miles from Stratford. The club’s fan groups have launched an online petition urging the Government to revoke the decision. Orient have also accused Newham council of granting “unlawful state aid” to West Ham in offering them a £40m to finance their move into the Olympic stadium after the games.

What are they doing lending £40m to a football club? They are not allowed to be involved in commercial deals. This is state subsidy of a commercial operation, which falls foul of European competition laws.‘ Barry Hearn (Orients chairman) said. ‘We are asking them to withdraw it. It is state aid and they don’t have the authority to make this kind of commercial investment under their charter.’

This another incident linked to the Olympics where there is no accountability.  It seems that although the decision to award West Ham the loan is technically illegal, it is allowed to happen because of its connection to the Olympic games. Should allowances such as this be made just because of its links to a major event ? It seems unlikely that West Ham will be able to pay back such a huge loan given football isn’t renowned for financial sustainability and it will be the Newham taxpayers who will be liable for the debt in the event of default.

In January, BBC London found a number of potential ‘abuses’  during the process leading up to the loan. These included:

  • Crucial documents explaining the bid in detail being withheld from councillors until shortly before the vote
  • No explanation as to whether the council would be liable for the debt if relegation-threatened West Ham defaulted
  • A ‘significant number’ of councillors holding reservations – but refusing to speak openly because they are allegedly “afraid” of missing out on lucrative positions
  • Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales declaring dozens of gifts from West Ham, with critics saying his impartiality has been compromised

For more information click BBC News

Spurs also intend to take the OPLC to court over a number of concerns they have about the process which led to the decision to give West Ham the £537 million stadium. They released a statement saying that,

‘Our lawyers have written to the OPLC, the Mayor of London, the Minister of Sport and the Secretary of State for Local Government and a separate letter to the London Borough of Newham raising a number of concerns with the processes which led to the award.’

‘The letters also requested – in the interests of transparency – for the provision of certain information concerning the processes, which the Club considers that it is entitled to. Tottenham Hotspur will determine its next step as and when it receives a response to these letters.’

Tottenham also plan to challenge the £40m loan which West Ham will be given at preferential rates that was not been offered to any other bidders for the stadium believed that this will form a key argument  for Spurs’ claims against the decision.

Tottenham said that they have now ‘sought permission from the High Court to bring a claim against the London Borough of Newham (“Newham”) for judicial review of Newham’s process in providing a loan for the conversion of the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games.’

A spokesperson from the OPLC stated that, ‘We have been consistent, fair, objective and entirely equal in our dealings with the bidders from start to finish. We are confident that if these judicial review proceedings are pursued, our approach will be entirely vindicated by the courts.’

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Olympic promises- fingers crossed

Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium

In their bid for the games London Olympic officials promised to keep an athletics track in the stadium.

Now, during a meeting in Acapulco, British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt only “hoped” the Olympic stadium would retain a running track after the games- neatly side stepping the issue of empty promises by saying the decision was down to the mysterious “Olympic Park Legacy Company”.

Two Premier League football clubs, West Ham and Spurs, have made bids to move into the Olympic Stadium after 2012, but only West Ham’s bid includes keeping the running track.

Hunt made clear his determination to honour that promise telling AP . “Of course, we would love to see the provision of a truly world class athletics track….I think we’d all be disappointed if that didn’t happen.”

Fighting talk, might as well rip up the Spurs offer then.

If the London Olympic organisers keep none of their promises to Londoners  (on jobs, on housing, on costs)  will it be an Olympic record? Or does it happen where ever the five rings descend?

One way East Londoners could economically benefit from the games would be to put money with the bookies that the stadium will be home to Tottenham in 2013. I wonder what odds they are giving.

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Spurs bid for Olympic 2012 stadium without track

Spurs challenge how much the Olympic Legacy Company really want an athletics track.

Spurs, in conjunction with entertainment giant AEG, made a shock move last week to take over the stadium after the 2012 London Olympics. But the club do not want a track running around the outside of the pitch, a clause which could seriously hinder their attempt to move into the venue. Or will it?

Timothy Leiweke , chief executive of the club, claimed the Olympic Legacy company would be likely not to accept their bid in light of these circumstances. “I think it is a crime if you sacrifice having a perfect football stadium for convincing yourself you are going to do a track and field event every 10 years,” Leiweke was quoted as saying in the London Evening Standard.

AEG Europe chief executive David Campbell believes the athletics track is not a deal breaker. He claimed that any expressions of interest in the stadium which would decide the venue’s future, did not oblige bidders to retain the running track.

Will the promised Olympic “legacy” of an athletics track trump the money on offer? Will West Ham United regret promising to keep the track in their bid if Spurs win? Will the famous West Ham atmosphere survive the dead space of the track or will it become another loss in the litany of negative Olympic impacts on East London?

For full article see here.

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Interview with Johnnie Walker online now

An interview is now online with Johnnie Walker from the Hackney and Leyton Sunday league about the effects of the Olympics on Hackney Marshes football. To view this interview and other clips from our Olympics project please visit the Spectacle website.



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Olympics ‘not worth it’ say Hackney footballers

Spectacle went to Hackney Marshes to interview local footballers on what they thought of plans to turn their pitches into a coach car park for the Olympic stadium.

The East marsh, has a reputation all over the world for being home to the largest number of outdoor pitches in Europe. It is not just this reputation that will be lost if Olympic plans go ahead says locals. The deep community spirit the football games bring to Hackney will also disapear.

As one female footballer pointed out, they could play in Walthamstow but why should Hackney women’s team play in Walthamstow ‘its not right’. Many were highly sceptical that once the Olympic games were finished their precious  pitches would be returned to them.

The East marsh football games have been taking place for over 50 years. They have been kept going through rain or snow by the local community and easy availability of space.  Anyone who wants to can play.  For many who take part, losing all this for a the Olympics, which will only last 3 weeks, is just not worth it.

For more information on Spectacles Olympic Project please visit our Project Page

For Spectacles latest film on the Olympics please visit our archive page.



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