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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 16:42 GMT
Orient reveal Olympic switch hope
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Artists impression of the internal view of the main 2012 Olympic Stadium
Orient would consider a move to London's 2012 Olympic Stadium
Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn says the club would be interested in moving home to London's Olympic Stadium after the Games finish in 2012.

Orient have emerged as candidates to move into the stadium in the east of London after it is down-sized from 80,000 to a 25,000 capacity.

This has ruled out Spurs and West Ham and opened the door for Orient.

And Hearn told BBC Sport: "If a deal comes up which is acceptable to all parties, we would consider it."

He added: "If we met the criteria, yes we would like to talk seriously about it."

Hearn revealed discussions had already taken place with London Olympic officials, but insisted they were at "a tremendously early stage".

And he stressed the current redevelopment of Orient's Brisbane Road ground would be completed, irrespective of any potential move in the future.

Hearn said: "This is a long way ahead, but in the context of the stadium itself, I understand the Government, Sport England and the Olympic people have designated the stadium to be 25,000 seats with an athletics track.

"If all parties maintain that view, that rules out any other football club other than Leyton Orient. It would be too small for Spurs or West Ham.

"That means if they wanted a football club there, I would suggest that we are the only ones possible. That is the view that has been put to us.

Leyton Orient chairman and owner Barry Hearn
Hearn says Orient are "desperately ambitious"

"The other side of this is that our Community Support Programme is very well known and extremely large and has always been well received.

"This probably fits the Olympic criteria better than anything in terms of the legacy of the games into the community."

Hearn admitted such a switch would elevate Orient to the status of "a major club" - but said no decision was imminent.

He said: "If they decide a football club should be there, we are the only one that fits the bill. We are only a mile away and I am sure they would offer us a package that would make a lot of sense.

"We would have to be interested in moving to a 25,000-seater stadium, surrounded by lots of new houses and the chance for Leyton Orient to become a major club rather than the little club it is now."

But he reassured Orient fans that the ambitious redevelopment of Brisbane Road would be completed, saying: "That's a done deal. Nothing will detract from our efforts to finish that off.

606 DEBATE: Should Leyton Orient move to the Olympic Stadium?

"We will do that then keep the door open for further discussions, then if a deal comes up that is acceptable to all parties we would give it due consideration.

"I believe those conversations will take place.

"We have had preliminary discussions with various people and it is a move that came from other people rather than us."

And Hearn is unconcerned by the possible 100m price tag mentioned for a club to take over the stadium after the Olympics close.

He said: "That is not for me to decide because we have not discussed the financial implications, but it comes as no surprise that as a small club, and looking at a legacy of the Olympics, finances don't come into it."

Hearn would also be comfortable with a move that would retain Orient's roots in east London.

He added: "Our home is the East End. We are a mile away, so I don't lose any sleep over that.

"Do I want an athletics track in front of me when I am watching football? Probably not.

"Is that a price I am prepared to pay to elevate Leyton Orient to a major club? Possibly I would.

"These are the discussions that will take place over the next 18 months and I would think a decision would not be made for a couple of years.

"We are desperately ambitious and would give credence to any sensible suggestions.

"There are movements at council level, Government level and Olympic development level.

"This is an issue that is going to have to be resolved and we have been in conversation with the Olympic people."


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