The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) risks ignoring its core market at its peril if it chooses Doha over London to stage the 2017 world athletics championships, UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said.
It's now or never for western European bids, Warner told a news conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo where the IAAF will vote on Friday to choose the 2017 hosts. London and Doha are the only candidates.
If you chase the short-term sugar rush of the short-term territory argument too often you might turn round and find your sport is built on foundations of sand, Warner said.
If London loses out to oil-rich Qatar, the global track and field showpiece will be held outside western Europe for at least 10 years. Berlin staged the event in 2009 while Daegu in South Korea was the 2011 host. Moscow will stage the championships in 2013 and Beijing in 2015.
The IAAF is predicated on sustaining the health of its foundation audience in the developed markets of western Europe, Warner said.
You ignore that at your peril and if you take the championships away from that core market for too long, you might come back and find broadcasters have diminished interest because audiences have diminished and sponsors have chosen to take their toys elsewhere and play in another playground.
To go away from western Europe for too long is a dangerous thing. To say they might not come back to this neck of the woods until 2019 at the earliest is to potentially stretch the credulity of your audience and sponsor family too far.
Warner believes London's previous failed attempts to stage the world championships could work in the capital's favour.
London was awarded the 2005 championships in 2001 but embarrassingly had to give up the opportunity to Helsinki when a proposed new stadium at Picketts Lock was deemed too expensive. London also ditched a bid for the 2015 event because of the legal wrangle over the Olympic Stadium's future tenant.
I'm an eternal optimist, Warner said. I actually think it plays in our favour.
There are a number of Council members have said to me they admire our persistence as a federation. Often you have to go back to the well a few times before you have got a full bucket.
I'm not at all concerned about the fact that we have tried before and got close, I believe this time we are in great shape to succeed.
London will make its final presentation to IAAF Council members on Friday.
Along with Warner and bid spearhead Sebastian Coe, the London delegation hoping to convince the governing body includes Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson.
(Editing by Sonia Oxley)