West Ham's bid scuppered, but don't expect to see Tottenham move to East London...
Alex Winehouse

11:09 11th October 2011

What a mess. Farce. Joke. Embarrassment. If this is the victory sought by Daniel Levy and Barry Hearn when Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient challenged the OPLC's decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United, it doesn't feel much like one. West Ham won't be able to get their grubby hands on the stadium in terms of owning it - or, more pertinently, Newham council owning it - but they're still going to move there, pay £2 million a year in rent, and probably leave us mug tax payers to cough up the remaining £3 million it will cost to fund a venue that already smacks of being the whitest of elephants.

This was a battle neither set of fans, claret and blue, or blue and white, wanted to win. From the West Ham perspective, it meant playing in a stadium too big for the club to fill, with an athletics track keeping fans well back from the action. This is a time when clubs throughout Europe, most notably Juventus, have realised that multi-purpose stadiums don't work, detract fans from attending, and leads to a distinct lack of atmosphere at the stadium. Ask Brighton and Hove Albion fans if they prefered their temporary Withdean home - complete with track, or their brand new, football-only Falmer Stadium. There's no comparison. The Hammers will be giving up one of the most intimidating grounds in the country for a souless bowl that's not fit for purpose.

From a Spurs point of view, the issue was a simple one; Tottenham Hotspur belong in Tottenham. Their White Hart Lane ground sits directly across the road from the old gaslight on the corner of the High Road and Church Road where the Hotspur Cricket Club, as the legend states, in 1882 decided to keep fit in the winter months by forming a football club. This is the original North London side, the only North London side, until Woolwich Arsenal invaded their territory in 1913.

Daniel Levy's motivation behind pushing for the Olympic Stadium site was both for financial reasons, and an attempt to move to a more desirable location. His motives here are nothing new, for it was an option seriously considered by Alan Sugar back in the 1990s. Tottenham, it is true, is not the best situated of London locations. Badly served by local transport, with parking restrictions in place to try and prevent fans from driving in on matchdays, Tottenham on a Saturday afternoon is an absolute nightmare to get to, and even worse to get away from. The area, as Levy is more than keen to point out, is in serious need of regeneration. Yes, it's a dump, but it's OUR dump.

Financially, the new White Hart Lane stadium will cost upwards of £400 million to build, before factoring in the money the club will have to invest in the surrounding area. The biggest cost of moving to the Olympic Stadium would have been removing the track, saving them hundreds of millions of pounds. Which, it is clear, will not happen, as the track must remain.

West Ham will still leave Upton Park to move to Stratford. Only they will have to pay rent, which will be further subsidised by taxpayers. It is hard to see the Stadium ever becoming a self-funding building. Especially one with the dreaded running track still in place. Spurs, thankfully, will remain in Tottenham, but with their bargaining position to get as much money out of Boris Johnson for regeneration now weakened. But our identity, for what it's worth, will remain. We'll still be Super Tottenham From The Lane. And for that, I, along with tens of thousands of others, will breathe a sigh of relief.

Classic video football games...

  • 10. Microprose Soccer (1988) - Sensible Software's first venture into football games, and a wonderful taster of things to come. The top-down scrolling pitch was small enough to enable you to not get lost, and with sliding tackles, throw-ins and difficult goalkeepers all thrown in, this was perhaps the first great simulation.

  • 9. Football Manager 2 (1988) - Kevin Toms, we salute you! The original Football Manager game was launched in 1982, but its stick figure graphics meant that it was merely a very good game, whereas its second coming, with full-coloured players and stadiums, and Match of the Day-type highlights, made this the first management classic. Even if starting off in the Fourth Division regardless of your team made this game a very, very long slog indeed.

  • 8. Emlyn Hughes International Soccer (1988) - Doing for side-on sims what Microprose did for top-down, Emyln Hughes International Soccer took the football game even further, thanks to the ability to edit team names and, more crucially, that of the players as well. Muveez literally wasted two years of its life playing this game, and it doesn't regret this for a minute.

  • 7. International Superstar Soccer '98 (1998) - Another leap forward in football simulation. For the first time, kits were detailed, and players had numbers on their backs for the first time since Man United Europe in 1990. The pitch at the bottom enabled you to see where all your players were at all times, meaning long hopeful punts down the pitch could be replaced by sweeping through balls up to your striker. Fifa took over a decade to catch up.

  • 6. Fifa International Soccer (1993) - Football games had become strictly a top-down experience by 1993, thanks to the dominance by Sensible Soccer. However, the arrival of Fifa marked the dawning of the 3D simulation. And the goals you could score! Sadly, this was as good as Fifa games could get for a number of years. But still, what a game...

  • 5. Kick Off 2 (1990) - For two years, nothing - be it sports or any other genre - could beat Dino Dini's offering. Different referee personalities, varying pitch conditions, and the ability to swerve the ball like never before all combined to devastating effect. Sadly, Dini could never match Kick Off 2, no matter how hard he tried, but the fact that people still play this game today shows the lasting impact he has had.

  • 4. Fifa 10 (2009) - The year Fifa finally overtook PES. Introducing 360 degree player motion and finally throwing away the problem of being able to score the same goal ad infinitum, Fifa 10 proved that EA were no longer happy to peddle any old rubbish provided they had the Fifa licence. Slightly refined for Fifa 11, PES has yet to catch up.

  • 3. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (2004) - But when PES ruled, boy did it rule. To be honest, PES 6 was perhaps the ultimate football game, but only on the PS2 - it was somewhat lacking on the XBox 360, which takes it out of the running. But, across all consoles, the fourth version of Konami's game was the best simulation ever made. It felt so real. Through balls were exquisite, the player's balance was all important for getting off accurate shots, and the lobbing graphics were so good that Fifa still hasn't bettered it. PES 5, with it's inability to pull of a tackle without getting booked, marked the beginning of the end of Seabass's dominance.

  • 2. Championship Manager 2 (1995) - The Manager was good, Premier Manager was better, and Football Director II topped them both, but in the world of management sims, there is only one king: CM2. No game like it had ever been seen before, and is still fiendishly addictive after sixteen years. For the first time, all you were required to do was buy players, pick a team, and try to win games. None of that stadium building nonsense. This was a proper sim. Even buying players was more realistic. Make an offer, wait a few days, offer a contract, wait a few days more, sign the player. Previously, it was always done in one go. Immensely detailed, incredibly complex, and yet easy to dive into. It's become huge now, of course, but in terms of sheer, pure, unadulterated joy, CM2 has never, and possibly will never, be beaten.

  • 1. Sensible Soccer (1992) - This was never in any doubt, was it? We end as we started, with Sensible Software supplying the single most brilliant football game of all time. A football game so good, it's later version, the impossibly deep Sensible World of Soccer (where you could literally be any team in the world - Barnet v. Border Security was no longer the stuff of dreams) is considered one of the finest computer games in any genre ever. And yet it's so unbelievably, ridiculously easy. Eight directions, one button. That's it. No feints, no tricks, just the joy of football diluted to its most simple and beautiful aspects. Dig out your Amiga, buy it on XBox Live, forget all about Fifa and Pro Evo - After nearly twenty years, Sensible Soccer stands as the finest football game we have ever seen.


Photo: Splash News