May 23 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Barry Hearn has promised to drop his legal fight with West Ham and find a new home for Leyton Orient if he fails to win a judicial review in to the handling of the tenancy of the Olympic Stadium.
Two weeks ago Hearn announced that he had asked for a judicial review in to the London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) decision to name West Ham as their preferred tenant for the £429million London 2012 stadium.
The Leyton Orient chairman thinks West Ham have broken the rules in their bid because they have not given his club the chance to discuss the possibility of a groundshare between the two neighbours.
Hearn thinks West Ham moving in to the Olympic Stadium will “crush” Leyton Orient because of the 60,000-seater arena’s proximity to Brisbane Road, which holds just over 9,000.
Hearn has repeatedly insisted he will not back down in his long-running battle with the Hammers over the stadium, but today he relented, admitting he will not take his legal fight any further if he is not successful in his application for a judicial review.
“If I lose the judicial review, I have got to walk [away],” Hearn told a press conference at the Nolan Partners Sport Industry Breakfast Club in London this morning.
“That’s it. It must stop - I can’t do anything else. I have fought a really good fight. I’ve cost people a lot of money and spent a lot of money myself but I don’t regret it because I think I am in the right.”
Hearn is convinced he will win the judicial review, but he is not confident of being given the chance to share the stadium with West Ham if the LLDC have to start the bidding process all over again for a third time.
For that reason the 64-year-old businessman has already started looking at other sites for a new ground for his League One club.
“If I stay [at Brisbane Road], I get crushed,” Hearn added. “And I am not prepared to see a club that is 130 years old, that reaches more kids than another other in the country through the community schemes, get crushed.
“I don’t know where [Leyton Orient would move to].
“Harlow has been mooted, Romford has been mooted, off the A13 down by the Docks... Barking way.”
The LLDC could announce the future tenants of the stadium as soon as Friday, although that decision will be subject to any judicial review of the overall process.
Hearn today hit out at West Ham, the LLDC and central government over the wrangling that has taken place regarding the stadium’s future ever since London was awarded the Games back in 2005.
West Ham were given the keys to the stadium but their bid collapsed after a legal challenge in 2011 from Leyton Orient and Tottenham, who have since pulled out of the bidding process.
Hearn’s main gripe with West Ham is that he thinks they will not even think about sharing with Orient, even though they agreed to the principle of “teaming” when bidding for the Stratford showpiece began.
He added: “We are not being given a chance. We signed up to a bidding process that said all parties accept the principal of teaming. But [West Ham] don’t.
“We’ve had no opportunity to team with West Ham - they won’t even talk to us about it.
“I have known [West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan] for 25 years.
“I phoned David Sullivan and he says ‘I’ve been advised I can’t talk to you’. How can he not talk to me if the teaming process is in the bidding process?
“So we think they are in breach of their own rules. We are hoping the judge says ‘no, these are the rules, you have not followed them, you must sit down and talk about teaming’.
“The whole of the Olympic saga has been mismanaged.
“Eventually I will get beaten. They may go through the motions. I think I will win the judicial review but then all they do is change the goalposts to get round it on a technicality.”
Hearn, never one to hold back, also criticised the politicians involved in the process.
He added: “I have spent more time with politicians during this process and they are awful. They don’t have much common sense or practical knowledge. They keep getting it wrong.
“[Former Olympics Minister] Tessa Jowell and [former London Mayor] Ken Livingstone made a decision to create a Meccano stadium with a running track around it and it doesn’t work.”