The London Olympic Stadium will be occupied by either West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur, after the Premier League clubs were short-listed as final bidders for the stadium in November, but a final decision is likely to be delayed well into the new year after the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) revealed that its timetable for settling the long-running debate has slipped.
The OPLC's announcement ends a five-year search for an alternative to football, and confirms the long-term view of most observers that the Premier League was the most likely means of ensuring the stadium's future viability.
A third bidder, International Stadium Group, is understood to have been dropped from the process.
The deadline for selecting the winner has slipped by at least three months, however. Originally the OPLC said it wanted to have a preferred bidder agreed by the end of this year, with final contracts signed by March 31 2011.
West Ham believe they are favourites and have told the Olympic Park Legacy Company that they can re-pay the loans required to transform the Olympic Stadium for football within ten years, and insist that their plans to leave Upton Park are sustainable even if they are relegated.
Recently, Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, went to great lengths to explain Spurs' reasons for competing with West Ham for the Stratford site, even though they remain confident that the redevelopment of their existing stadium will receive clearance.
However, a group of supporters calling themselves "We are N17" have started a website opposed to the move and handed out 20,000 leaflets ahead of the game against Liverpool. A march along Tottenham High Street before the Chelsea game on Dec 12 was also staged.
In addition, UK Athletics chief, Ed Warner, has called for Spurs to rethink their proposal to take over the stadium. "Tottenham, and their partner, AEG, have made it clear that they will rip up the track and make it a football only venue, and that is hugely concerning to me," Warner told BBC Sport.
London 2012 promised the International Olympic Committee that an athletics track, capable of staging major events, would be part of the legacy.
"West Ham and Newham Council have shown that they can embrace that legacy opportunity and work with athletics with a very credible proposal. I would like to see Spurs and AEG come up with something equally exciting."
Although UK Athletics will not decide the stadium's future, their choice of West Ham as "preferred bidder" is likely to be influential.
Source: Daily Telegraph / London Evening Standard