May 23 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Barry Hearn is confident of getting a judicial review that would see the whole process of bidding for the keys to the Olympic Stadium at square one for a third time.
Earlier this month Hearn sought a review into the handling of the process which saw West Ham named as the preferred bidder for the 60,000-seat stadium by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).
The Hammers were awarded the right to move into the London 2012 showpiece a year before the Games began, but they had to start their bid from scratch again because of legal challenges from Orient and Tottenham. Tottenham have since withdrawn their interest in moving to Stratford.
Orient chairman Hearn has warned he is determined to obtain a review into the bidding process, meaning any interested party would have to start their application once more.
Hearn says the LLDC have broken the rules because they are not willing to discuss the possibility of a ground-share with east London neighbours Orient.
“All I am asking for is could our little club share with West Ham because we think that is the ethos of the Olympics. They do it in Europe, but for some reason West Ham don’t want to share,” Hearn told a press conference at the Nolan Partners Sport Industry Breakfast Club.
“It seems to me that the LLDC are siding with West Ham because they have got money and we haven’t. They want the stadium to be theirs, but they have signed up to the principle of teaming and in our view they have ignored it.
“Don’t bet against me, because I think we are going to spank them again... so once again it’s going to be back to where we started.”
Should the bidding process have to start again, it would be an embarrassment for the LLDC, whose remit is to secure a long-lasting Olympic legacy for London and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Hearn, who believes his club will go out of business if they remain at Brisbane Road, hit out at the politicians he thinks are responsible for the long, drawn-out battle that has raged over the destiny of the stadium in the last few years.
“The whole of the Olympic saga has been dreadfully mismanaged from inception,” the 64-year-old said.
“A lot of people are at fault, mainly government. You wouldn’t let these politicians run a newsagents, but they are running the country. They are all pretty tatty.
“It’s scary. [Former Olympics Minister] Tessa Jowell and [former London Mayor] Ken Livingstone made a decision to create this Meccano of a stadium with a running track around it and it doesn’t work.
“It has gone to a judicial review and to an inquiry. It’s frightening to think four or five years ago the leader of the regeneration said we will be able to announce our tenants within the next three months.
“That was about five years ago, so they keep getting it wrong.”
Given that Orient average just under 4,000 spectators per game, Hearn acknowledges he will have to find ways of boosting crowds if they move to the Olympic Stadium.
“We would allow every under-18 in London, every serviceman, and every old-age pensioner in for free,” he said.