You know the debate about the future of the Olympic stadium at Stratford has become farcical when Pele starts piping up with his opinion.
Pele is the most notoriously wrongheaded pundit in football (I know, a bold claim, but one he comfortably justifies). This is the fellow who said that Nicky Butt was the future of football, as he did about Freddy Adu, the wonderkind who flopped hopelessly from that moment on. He also declared Totti the best player in the world, which might be true if you were judging him on his hair and overlook that he always goes missing in big games.
It’s true, Pele was good at scoring goals. He is also a geriatric loudmouth who should, as Maradona so wisely put it, ‘go back to the museum.’
Now, possibly guided by a conversation with that impartial and sober judge, Jimmy Greaves, he has been led to think that Tottenham are the rightful inheritors of the Olympic stadium. That’s the proposal, you will remember, to rebuild the stadium for football with no running track. Which is perhaps not quite what the British public thought the Olympic legacy would look like. This is in opposition to West Ham’s proposal to move in, retaining the track.
So what is the right decision?
I’ll admit, it’s a tough one. On the upside, if Tottenham get the stadium it would leave their fans harrumphing about loss of identity and give opposition fans years of fun along the lines of ‘you’re just a shit club from Stratford,’ etc. It would leave West Ham fans feeling like they’ve been robbed, which is their natural state. It would also make Lord Coe a hate figure among athletes.
If West Ham get the stadium they will get a nice new home which is vaguely in the right part of town for them. However, the track would be retained, therefore robbing fans of their ability to intimidate opponents and linesmen. As a Rangers fan, I’ve long enjoyed abusing the lino, so I can feel the Hammers’ fan pain on this sensitive issue. When the super hoops are not having a good day, you can always amuse yourself by shouting at the linesman:
‘Oi, Lino. Dipstick!’
It’s part and parcel of the game, a tradition that has gone back generations, and one I would hate to see lost.
To make a proper judgement we must look at the wider ramifications. If Spurs get a bigger stadium it would give them greater income and secure their top five status. It would, therefore, leave Liverpool stranded in the longer-term as England’s sixth club (unless Sunderland or Villa are having a good year).
For me, the sound of the whinging scouser ringing up 606 saying this player or that player is ‘not fit to wear the shirt’ in that preposterously egotistical fashion the Reds fan has perfected is, in its way, rather endearing. It should be nurtured at every opportunity.
So, in summary, these, I feel, are the salient points to consider:
1. We must do everything we can to keep the scouser whinging
2. Upton Park should remain a haven for fans to abuse players and officials alike
3. West Ham fans should retain their sense of bad luck and injustice.
So, for the good of football, and it does pain me to say this: give the stadium to Spurs.