Leyton Orient ‘will fight to bitter end’

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn. Photo: Adam Davy/EMPICS

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn. Photo: Adam Davy/EMPICS - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Hearn speaks out on Olympic Stadium

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn reiterated his desire for a groundshare with West Ham at the Olympic Stadium today, while also announcing free season tickets for youngsters next season as he also confirmed that the club will not be relocating out of the area.

Hearn is still confident of winning a judicial review in the next few weeks and will fight for the club’s future ‘into the next decade’ if he has to.

He said: “I’m here to make our position clear in regards to the Olympic Stadium.

“West Ham have just agreed the most remarkable, unbelievable state support and subsidy deal ever given. What a deal.

“Congratulations to Karren Brady and West Ham. I’m not criticising West Ham or their fans but we just want the opportunity to discuss a ground share deal.

“My favourite course of action is a ground share deal. But why won’t they discuss it? It happens all around Europe. Teams ground share in France, Germany, Italy. So why doesn’t it happen here?

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“What harm will it do to have football in the Olympic stadium every week?

“My message to the fans is that we will continue to fight. We will not be bullied by the big boys. We have the resources to fight this into the next decade if we have to. We will continue this fight to the bitter end in our back garden. We’ve been fighting for six years and we’ll fight for another six if we have to.”

Hearn went on to say his fight was not about money, but merely ensuring Orient’s survival.

And he called upon Mayor of London Boris Johnson to help them realise their dreams of promotion.

He added: “I’m not looking for money, I’m looking for survival. There are more things to life than money. History and heritage is more important.

“My message to Boris Johnson is please consider the ground share idea, give us the dream of where we want to go.

“This year we came close to the play-offs, next year we want to make promotion to the championship a reality. And if we can get into the Olympic Stadium that will galvanise us.”

West Ham are set to move into the Olympic Stadium for the 2016/17 season, when they will have a 54,000-seat venue at their disposal.

But Hearn believes Orient could also make good use of the facility and is adamant they will not move away from the area, following previous talk of relocating.

He added: “The lower tier of the Olympic Stadium holds 18-19,000. We think we can sell out that lower tier and give the fans the atmosphere they want.

“We are are giving away 1,500 season tickets completely free to young people aged 14-18 and full time students aged 18-21 for the East Stand.

“Leyton Orient are a debt free club. West Ham have huge debts, so maybe they do need it more than us! We’ll they’ve got it.

“We came from here, we stay here. We are not moving. Even if we don’t get the Olympic Stadium, we are staying in this area. If anyone thinks they can brush Leyton Orient under the carpet, think again.

“West Ham are a totally commercial club, we’re not, we’re a community club. We do exceptional work in the community. We’re proud of that. We think that fits in with the legacy of the Olympic Stadium.

“West Ham’s yearly income is £100 million, Leyton Orient’s is £3 million. But if Boris Johnson is willing to subsidise West Ham, what about us?

“It seems from day one that the powers-that-be have decided that West Ham will be the anchor tenant and they have bent over backwards to make sure it happens. It’s been handed to them.

“All we want to do is be given the opportunity to discuss a ground share with West Ham, but that request has been denied. “We have not received one logical reason as to what harm Leyton Orient would do to West Ham. We are no competition to West Ham in a commercial sense.

“There are no logical reasons for a ground share to be denied unless West Ham have struck some deal with the Mayor’s office that they will be the only tenants.

“Have they already agreed to put in claret and blue seats? Have they decided they will have a Trevor Brooking or a Bobby Moore Stand? Hopefully they have done everything above board.

“We have been turned down by Boris Johnson on a financial basis. He wants to know how much we are willing to put in to fund the costs of converting the stadium. And I told him nothing, we’re skint!

“The cost of converting the stadium is estimated at £160-190 million. They designed the wrong stadium, we said that to them seven years ago.”

Hearn is expecting news on his application for a judicial review in the near future and again called into question the rules surrounding usage of the Olympic Stadium.

He added: “We will find out, and we will continue this legal fight. We except to receive a written reply concerning a judicial review over the bidding process within the next two weeks. We are confident we will win. We want our day to discuss a ground share.

“We have even offered to move our fixtures around to suit West Ham or any rock concerts they want to hold at the stadium. West Ham can have first pick, no problem.

“Premier League rules state that for any team to solely take over the Olympic Stadium, it must have no adverse affects on teams around the area.

“West Ham are planning to give away 100,000 tickets a year. How can that not have an adverse affect on us?

“Anything that goes on in that Olympic Park will attract people. It’s a must visit venue in London. People won’t care what’s going on here, 750 yards away. Of course it will have an affect. Here we will be dwarfed and forgotten about when the Olympic Stadium opens.

“We need this to go the the next level. If we get the stadium deal we are commiting 100 per cent of profits to the team and the community. West Ham profits will go to reducing their debt.”

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