Friday, 10 October 2014


As the news of the proposed demolition of the Crystal Palace athletics stadium and indoor track spreads this week, Trackspeed1 UK Head Coach John Powell has slated what he called "faceless bureaucrats" who have come up with "half-baked proposals" with next to no consultation with key stakeholders.

"It would appear that plans are at a pretty advanced stage, and designs have already been drafted  with a view to replacing the athletics facilities at the Palace with a new Primary School," he said.

"I understand there is a display going up as of Monday in the sports centre indicating what the plans are, with two public consultation events later in the week.  That is all very well, but we shouldn't have got anywhere near this stage without proper consultation with the people who work from here, and a check on the reality of how much use the stadium and indoor track actually receives.

"I have spoken to a number of people since this news hit my radar earlier in the week.  John Regis MBE is still the British 200m record holder, and he both trained and competed at Crystal Palace.  He was oblivious to the proposals, and was outraged - horrified - when I told him what the plans are."

Regis runs a highly successful athlete agency "Stellar Athletics" which manages some real sporting legends worldwide.  One of their most recent acquisitions is Crystal Palace-based Kieran Daly (22), coached by John Powell, and who was the most improved British sprinter over 100 metres in 2014.  Daly follows in the footsteps of dozens of international athletes developed within the Trackspeed1 UK stable over many years - based at Crystal Palace.

They have included such household names as Phillips Idowu, Joice Maduaka, James Ellington, Olympians Dwayne Grant, Chris Lambert and Andy Matthews, not to mention outstanding youth talent such as triple European Junior medalist David Bolarinwa, World junior bronze medalist Wade Bennett-Jackson, and a roll of honour a mile long at national and regional level.
John Regis MBE - one of the dozens of household
names from the world of Athletics who have both
trained and competed at the iconic 'spiritual home'
of UK track and field in past years.
"I have attempted to contact Lord Sebastian Coe too," Powell continued, "surely he will have something to say around the Olympic Legacy issue - as I have already stated on this blog, the impact on South London, where there is a wealth of sporting talent, will be disastrous.

"The GLA apparently ay they have consulted widely on this already.  Well I'm President and Chairman of Belgrave Harriers and we have heard nothing.  And speaking to a representative of the South of England AA whose offices at the Palace stand to be demolished - the news came as a complete shock to them!

"Let us be clear on what these plans imply.  Crystal Palace is the ONLY athletics track in London that has a comprehensive transport hub on its doorstep.  It is the only purpose-built stadium in the Capital bar the Olympic Park, and the only other indoor facilities are at Sutton, Lee Valley, or West London, all of which are served by the minimum of public transport service, and which lie in hugely congested traffic areas.

"The under-use argument is completely flawed.  In truth a lot of people who use Crystal Palace find other ways to access the track because of the ridiculous mission you have to undergo to travel from main reception to the stadium. On occasions I have had to allow an additional half an hour for repeat trips to my car to take equipment to the track such is the distance between the facility and external access.

"I do sympathise with local management to a degree though - I am sure if they had been given the financial backing to invest in and market the athletics side of their business there they probably would have done.  Instead the place has been left to rot.

"I understand there is a small action group being formed at the moment, and I have every intention of playing a prominent part in that - along with any other efforts that can be made to reverse what I regard to be one of the greatest threats to the progress of sport in London and the UK in modern times.  These plans must be stopped."

1 comment:

  1. Well said, John. It really is disgrace and so much for the so called Olympic Legacy promulgated by Coe and Jowell "for our future generations of young athletes"! First Sheffield and now Crystal Palace.....and of course, no chance of regular public use of West Ham's ex Olympic stadium, also promised in the Legacy!!!