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Former FA Cup final site that once hosted Usain Bolt now abandoned and left to rot while covered in fox poo


A FORMER FA Cup final venue that also hosted Usain Bolt is now an abandoned stadium covered in fox poo.

The National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace opened in 1964 in Crystal Palace Park, the same site where the Cup final was held between 1895 and 1914.

The large sports centre and outdoor athletics stadium which had a 19,000 capacity ground hosted the London Grand Prix for over a decade before it was switched to the Olympic Stadium in 2012.

Jamaican Olympic legend Bolt was one of the star names to have competed there in the past - but now the site has fallen into disrepair since its closure in November 2020.

A report by The Times highlighted the shocking decline, although they report how The Mayor of London has committed millions to refurbishing the decaying National Sports Centre.

The South London complex was closed in November 2022 over emergency safety concerns.

Concrete pillars holding up the floodlights were discovered to have been unsafe. 

Although they have since been removed, the Olympic-sized swimming and diving pool there have remained closed since March 2020.

Now after years of leakages on the indoor running track, which hosted its last grand prix in 2011, the outside stands are covered in bird, fox and rat excrement.

And the start line where Bolt once lined-up to race is now peppered with holes. 


Former British sprinter Donovan Reid now works as an athletics coach and has used the stadium for 30 years, and he says it has been “managed to disrepair”.

He told BBC: “To categorise it as a bit of a mess, is like saying the pandemic was a cold. It's more than a bit of a mess.

“We would love it if work to make it safe can be done and then they can start its development.

“What we don't want is for someone to shut it down completely.

“I have young athletes who I believe can make the Commonwealth, Olympic and World teams and their training is being stifled.”

However, a glimmer of hope has now appeared for the historic venue after Sadiq Khan “authorised a sum said to be in single-figure millions to be spent over the next 12 months” on repairing the outdoor and indoor running tracks.

And that figure will also lead to installing replacement floodlighting and upgrading other facilities, such as the main fitness gym.

Khan said: “Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is a historic and much-loved sporting and community facility where many UK sporting stars have started their careers and trained, but which is in need of major investment and refurbishment.

“I am completely committed to this once-in-a-generation redevelopment of the site which will secure its future for decades to come. While work continues apace on our vision for the long-term future of the centre, I am delighted to announce that we intend to make a number of early improvements that we hope will make a huge difference to users of the centre.

“Over the coming months, we will continue to work closely with key stakeholders — including sporting bodies and wider community groups — to deliver an outstanding venue that our capital and our country can be proud of.”