Barry Hearn to fight on

Barry Hearn will take his fight against West Ham's sole occupancy of the Olympic Stadium "well into the next decade" if he has to

Last Updated: 18/04/13 at 16:57 Post Comment   

Barry Hearn: Wants to groundshare with West Ham

Barry Hearn: Wants to groundshare with West Ham

Barry Hearn has vowed to take his fight against West Ham's sole occupancy of the Olympic Stadium "well into the next decade" if he has to.

The Leyton Orient chairman wants his npower League One club to groundshare with the Hammers, who were confirmed as the stadium's tenants last month.

Hearn revealed Orient would not be moving away from Leyton as a result of West Ham's move onto their doorstep in 2016 - the Olympic Park is about half a mile from their Brisbane Road ground - and instead vowed to "fight from our own back garden".

He made his latest move by offering 1,500 free season tickets to youngsters and students to boost the club's fanbase.

"We are not going to be bullied by the big boys," he said.

"We have enough resources and enough friends on our side to take this fight well into the next decade, if necessary.

"We want a groundshare at the Olympic Park and we think we have an unanswerable case for that being the real legacy of the Olympics."

Hearn is expecting a written outcome of a judicial review of last month's decision in a fortnight.

Should that review fail he will reopen his action against the Premier League, which rules clubs can only move provided there is no adverse effect on another club in the vicinity.

"Anyone with a brain can see West Ham moving half a mile up the road and giving away free tickets would have an adverse effect on this football club," said Hearn.

On top of an initial £15million for a 99-year lease on the stadium, West Ham will pay annual rent of around £2million, a deal Hearn calls "mind-blowing".

Hearn's proposal is that Orient pay £1million rent per year if they are in the Championship - this season they look set to just fall short of the League One play-offs - and £5million per year should they reach the Premier League.

But he added: "We have not had the opportunity to discuss a groundshare in accordance with the bidding process.

"There is no logical reason not to share. Unless it transpires that West Ham have done a deal, against the bidding process, with the mayor's office, that they would pay provided they were the exclusive club in the Olmpic Stadium.

"We've met the financial criteria so the question is, is there something we don't know?

"Has someone done a deal which says 'we will do this but we want claret and blue seats and a Bobby Moore stand'?. In other words we want to give the world the opinion that this is West Ham's stadium. But West Ham are a tenant and we are applying to be a tenant as well.

"It's clear to me that from day one the government decided West Ham would have the tenancy and they have bent over backwards to give it to them.

"In a way you can understand why, the alternative was to be left with a white elephant. But it begs the question, if Boris Johnson and his offices are prepared to subsidise a major Premier League football club, what about us?"


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