It seems to happen after every major tournament or Olympic games.
Some sort of extravagant facility is built at taxpayer expense for a month-long or three-week event. This is followed by enormous political fallout and scandal as organizers scramble to ensure it remains in regular use.
Sometimes these venues become integral to the national sporting scene, as with the Stade de France and the Stadium Australia. Often they become white elephants, as in Beijing’s Bird Nest and Montreal’s “Big Owe.”
The problem is there is no clear road map however to relevancy for enormous sporting facilities. In some cases these stadia fill an already-existing national sporting void. In London’s athletics-focused Olympic stadium however, it’s hard to see a venue the country was in desperate need of with the new Wembley and the Oval covering two of the UK’s most popular national field sports. Athletics cannot compete with these, but there is a surfeit of football clubs in need of space in London.
Which is why former sports minister Richard Caborn may not be overreaching when he suggests that West Ham’s super mega cheap deal to take over the stadium on a 99-year lease was “the biggest mistake of the London Olympics.” He originally worked to see the stadium originally outfitted with an eye to its use as a regular football stadium instead of an athletics facility, a decision that will leave UK taxpayers with the tab as West Ham United prepare to blow bubbles all over it.
Sometimes hindsight is 20/20, but this one appears to have been a little more obvious…
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Holy sweet mother of god. Gareth Bale does it again, rescuing Spurs at Upton Park with a stunner just before injury time. Spurs move past Chelsea into third place with the win.
Game in a sentence
West Ham played some excellent football, but in the end Robin van Persie’s stunning goal — who else — ensured a replay.
- A relatively inauspicious opening week of the transfer window madness saw Joe Cole return to his old stomping grounds. Hailed as the next Gazza, Cole was slated to be the next big thing in English football. 2003 was a long time ago. Ten years later he returned home, putting in a vintage performance against his old friends from Manchester.
- David Beckham was treated to a thrilling game at Upton Park — though he did leave early, wanker. The possession numbers at the end of the first half were expected, with West Ham managing just 26% of the ball. However, the irons notched eleven shots to United’s four. Read the rest of this entry »
Image via @bubbaprog
It’s gone from terrible to slightly above catastrophic for Chelsea’s latest manager. An impressive first half, marked by a goal from Juan Mata in the 13th minute, was defined by Victor Moses’ superb performance. West Ham allowed Chelsea’s best — a collection of the most talented footballers in the league, there is no doubt — far to much time to deliberate. Read the rest of this entry »
Of all the reaction involving West Ham supporters’ disgraceful behaviour at White Hart Lane, I don’t think I’ll ever read as good, and simple, account of the broader situation as Jacob Steinberg’s. Some of us on the daily, “Let’s write nine hundred posts a day” beat have become a little war-weary of this type of story. In the end, you just long to get back to talking about the circles on the diagram.
Steinberg however, himself a West Ham supporter, unflinchingly points to the simple, unassailable ugliness here:
Football is a working-class sport and its blokiness means that people do not want to be seen as a grass or a snitch. You could tell a steward but chances are people will know and that creates its own problems. Ultimately is it worth the hassle? How do you reason with someone who thinks that the industrialised murder of six million Jews is an acceptable way to score points against Tottenham fans?
Yet it needs people to be brave enough to stand up to this. It is no good doing nothing during the match and then taking to the internet to write it off as a minority action afterwards, because the whole club is tarred by association. It is no good to claim these people are not true West Ham fans, because that is merely a semantic debate which moves the goalposts.
And that’s what this has to be, sadly. A numbers game. A core decent element shouting down the rotten element. We don’t need idiotic sophistry involving intentions (“It’s not actual Jews they’re getting at, just Spurs fans”), or apologies about social class. Moreover, we don’t need this behaviour characterized, in the manner of the Daily Mail, as the result of a collection of “morons” who “don’t know history.”
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The vitriol was more intense than usual.
Brain McBride, Eric Wynalda and the Fox Soccer crew were done with Roberto Mancini. The City manager had committed the cardinal sin — discussing job offers that came his way this summer without the normal shroud of BS that accompanies manager speak. “I was close with seven or eight teams but I prefer to stay here.” That’s the quote that drew ire, not his insistence on employing three at the back — a formation that has clearly failed him. Would he really have left the EPL for Ligue 2? Honestly? With the way his future at City was discussed last season, perhaps this was his brand of retribution. Read the rest of this entry »
Game in a sentence
A thoroughly impressive performance sees the Gunners ease past West Ham after a shaky beginning.
- Twenty minutes of Arsenal build up and no finish – breaking news – was rudely interrupted by a stunner of a goal from Mohamed Diame to put the home side ahead. It was a lovely finish made possible by some awful defending by Aaron Ramsey. Forward, forward, forward – yes, we get that. But at least seem like you give a damn tracking back. 1-0 Hammers. The bubbles were flowing.
- Back in the lineup for Arsène Wenger, Per Mertesacker was tasked with handling the indomitable force that is Andy Carroll. The Hammers striker was impressive on this day, winning headers with ease and providing an outlet for a team that lacks creativity in the midfield. For his part, Mertesacker did well and even had a chance at goal late in the game.
- Did Olivier Giroud do some terrible things in his past life? That was the thought as the Frenchman continued to come so agonizingly close to scoring his first in league play. Thanks to a well placed, low cross from Lukas Podolski, Giroud finally defeated that demon. Both the run and touch on the ball were fantastic. Saying it now – 60 goals, 50 assists (hashtag hyperbole).
- After performing so well in Arsenal’s win against Olympiakos, Gervinho and Ramsey had games to forget. The latter was especially poor on the counter attack. Theo Walcott and Andre Santos replaced them in the second half.
- Calls for a penalty from Phil Dowd – who was a special kind of terrible today – were dismissed after Ricardo Vaz Te was clipped by Vito Mannone. Vaz Te was injured on the play because he dragged his foot in an attempt to draw the whistle. Cheating sometimes pays. In this instance it didn’t. To add insult to injury the forward separated his shoulder on the play.
- A clever through ball from Giroud led to Walcott’s go ahead score in the 77th minute. The Hammers defense was playing far too deep for the majority of the game, allotting tons of space in the middle. Walcott’s finish was clinical. Maybe this guy can play striker? (No, he can’t) Both Diame and Walcott drew cautions for celebrating after their goals. Can we do away with this ridiculous rule already. Please.
- Santi Cazorla capped a successful trip to Upton Park with a beauty of a strike. The trio of Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud were terrific. The German created six chances on goal – the most of any player on the pitch. What he said to Giroud after the first goal is what I want to know. Football’s lost in translation moment.
- In the end Sam Allardyce will rue the strategy he implemented. Arsenal were allowed far too much time on the ball – something they clearly relish. For Arsenal, eight out of twelve possible points on the road is an early positive. Goals from three different players also lends credence to Wenger’s belief that the Gunners can cope with RVP’s departure. Until the next loss at least.
1. Lukas Podolski
2. Olivier Giroud
3. Andy Carroll