May 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Leyton Orient chief explained the thinking behind the proposal to share the Stratford arena with the Hammers
Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has revealed that the assets of selling their ground would go into the team if they were to ground-share the Olympic Stadium with rivals West Ham.
The club are looking into the move after it was revealed that seating could be used to cover the athletics track.
“As far as I see it, Leyton Orient have three options,” Hearn said.
“We have some considerable assets at Brisbane Road, so if we were to move into the Olympic Stadium then the money raised from Brisbane Road will be invested into the team and hopefully help the club rise through the leagues.
“I am of the belief that if West Ham move in then in the medium term we will go out of business or drop down the divisions – neither of which I want to see happen.
“Another alternative is we look at a site outside Leyton but with the economy as it is that may not be viable.
“We have time to agree whichever one of those three options.”
Hearn had been strongly opposed to the Hammers occupying the Olympic Stadium outright and insisted that a move to within walking distance of Orient’s Brisbane Road ground would kill his club.
The chairman had also claimed that the stadium was “not fit for football” but has explained why he has had a change of heart.
“We’ve come to the understanding that West Ham are insisting that the stadium has seats fitted over the athletics track,” Hearn added.
“When London was named as the Olympic venue in 2005 we were the preferred tenant after the games for a 25,000 seater stadium and we would not open the top tiers but then the design revealed that the athletics track would make it unfit for football.
“We will never ever play in a ground with an athletics track in front of the supporters.
“We are hearing that West Ham agree that the track needs to be removed, which is why we are interested in the proposal.
“The two clubs play their home games on alternate weekends meaning it will have constant use.”
West Ham have not yet been awarded the Olympic Stadium, although they are the favourites to take over the Stratford site and Hearn explained how the ground-share would work.
“It would not be a relationship between Leyton Orient and West Ham,” Hearn added.
“We would be tenants in our own right but we will share the ground.
“We would not pay to make the ground fit for football.
“The stadium cost around £600 million to build in the first place.
“We are in phase three of the bidding process and this is the legacy company’s problem.”
The move however could be scuppered and sources at West Ham have suggested that a ground-share would not be welcomed by the Hammers.
The Leyton Orient Fans Trust also want to ascertain what the club’s plans are for the stadium and remain adamant that the site is not fit for football use.
Hearn has moved to ease the concerns of supporters who are unhappy at a proposed move.
“We will certainly consult our supporters,” the chairman insisted. “We would never move without consulting them.
“There is no point in going into consultations at this stage in the process as the full facts are not revealed yet and we do not know if the stadium will be fit for football.
“We will take time to agree on what’s best for the club.”
A final decision on who takes hold of the Olympic Stadium is expected in October, after the 30th Olympiad.
Other bidders include Essex County Cricket Club in a joint venture with the University of East London.
West Ham were initially awarded the venue last year but the deal fell through following an anonymous complaint to the European Union.
Spurs and Orient, who were challenging the decision, deny they made the complaint.