Orient fans back Hearn over switch to hockey stadium
Supporters believe it would be a better outcome than moving to Essex
ORIENT chairman Barry Hearn has hinted that the club could be interested in moving into the Olympic hockey stadium following the 2012 Games.
The latest twist came after the club issued a statement at the weekend fearing for their future.
West Ham and Tottenham are battling for the right to move to the Olympic Stadium which is on Orient’s doorstep and could jeopardise their very existence.
“The decision of the Olympic Legacy Company to award the use of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium to either West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur will have grave implications on the future of London’s second-oldest Football League Club and threaten our proud traditions as a community-based club,” said the club statement.
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“A huge question mark hangs over our long-term viability at Brisbane Road with the move of another professional football club to within a mile of what has been our home since 1937.”
Orient have already ruled out the possibility of a groundshare at the Olympic Stadium and Hearn said: “Our average gate is 4,500, so it would look ridiculous.”
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A move away from their spiritual home has been muted before, but it seems that a relocation to the hockey stadium would be more appealing to the Orient fans.
Rory Macqueen, co-editor of the Leyton Orientear fanzine admitted: “It would certainly be a better outcome than moving the club to Harlow or Basildon for sure.”
Although Macqueen believes that Orient could survive if they stay at Brisbane Road.
“If Tottenham or West Ham move to the Olympic Stadium it could be the end of Orient, but that’s not definite. We don’t know that for sure,” he said.
“I think the concern for the supporters is that if it does happen, it’s not used as an excuse to sell up at Brisbane Road and move the club to Essex.”
Orient fans have already started a petition and hope to join forces with supporters of West Ham and Spurs to preserve the status quo.
“The petition will help raise awareness and the Leyton Orient Fans Trust (LOFT) are contacting supporters at West Ham and Spurs, because it seems that a majority of fans don’t want the move,” said Macqueen.
“It would be in everyone’s interests if the clubs remain where they are.”
Since launching the petition, the Orient fans have received plenty of support from other clubs.
“We have been a bit surprised how much support there has been,” added Macqueen.
“But I think it’s because everyone feels it’s unfair.
“If the end result is a bad one for the club nearest to the Olympics, it just doesn’t seem right.”
But Macqueen admits the move to the hockey stadium seems strange.
“It’s a puzzling one. You would still have Tottenham or Spurs moving into our patch, so a move to the hockey stadium does not really alter the situation,” he said.
With a decision on the Olympic Stadium on hold, the Orient fans will try and take their message to a wider audience.
“Our fans know the situation and they are not the ones who need convincing. We will try and put pressure on the authorities who will make the decision to try and stop West Ham and Spurs moving in,” said Macqueen.