Be careful what you wish for! As the news drips out agonisingly, misleadingly (“West Ham have won the bid” appears to have been downgraded to “a report says West Ham should win the bid if the legacy criteria are to be met” – how is this news?) it does seem increasingly likely that Stratford has decided to “say no to Spurs”. We are to remain, for the moment, the only London Premiership club (apart from Fulham) to play in the area we are named after.
And so for the first time since this whole saga emerged, I’ve actually felt a little cramp of fear. Are we wishing ourselves into limbo? Have we, the fans, just waged a campaign that will see West Ham in a position to mount a title challenge before Tottenham Hotspur ever does?
Well, no. First of all, I’d love to believe that a lot of fat men wearing medallions saying “no” to an area of east London has some effect, but it really doesn’t. We the fans are not the major players in this, as we know all too well. And second, there was never a bid to be won, as far as I can see. If a running track round the pitch is vital to a successful bid then whatever your feelings about Stratford, the move to the Olympic Stadium was never – to use Daniel Levy’s favourite word – viable.
So where do we go from here? You either need a big stadium or oil to fuel a tilt at the title, and we have neither.
I’m sure this will all come out over the coming weeks and months, but one thing that puzzles me is this: if Levy doesn’t care what the fans think about Stratford, why did he care so much about the match day experience in Stratford? Why were we so concerned about getting rid of the athletics track? Two possibilities. Either he’s been told people will refuse to go (and I just don’t believe that – it may be cruddy but you’d still get big crowds) or he knew that this could potentially wreck our bid. And if it’s the latter, that means he still has a plan B.
And I think it’s still the Northumberland Development Project. Partly because we have never had an adequate explanation as to why it has suddenly become “unviable”, partly because I was mixing with the hoi polloi at a fancy corporate event the other evening and was speaking to “someone” who had “some kind of involvement” in it and he distinctly “raised an eyebrow” and clearly intimated that it was “not dead in the water” at all. FACT.
There you go. If only it had in fact been his sister’s friend’s cousin who had told me this, I could join the “ITK” community (in the know, for those not in the know). I’m not going to hang my hat on it, but it makes sense. It’s certainly “more viable” than Stratford, which has now been downgraded to “completely unviable”.
North London is ours. Unless Plan B is actually somewhere like Tooting. Tooting Hotspur has a ring to it, don’t you think? And it would be much more convenient to get to, for me anyway.