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Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Leyton Orient 'open to Olympic hockey venue switch'

Leyton Orient

Orient express Olympic Stadium fears

Leyton Orient could be interested in moving into the Olympic hockey stadium following the 2012 Games, club chairman Barry Hearn has told the BBC.

West Ham and Tottenham are battling for the right to move into the main Olympic Stadium, which is only two miles from the O's Brisbane Road home.

"I don't know if it's available. At the moment the hockey stadium's designated as a temporary facility," said Hearn.

"It's a possibility if everyone pulls together. Let's talk about it."

The hockey stadium will be a 16,000-seater facility within the Olympic Park, which will be moved to the Eton Manor section of the Olympic Park after the Games.

In its new location, it will have 3,000 permanent seats, but this can be boosted to 15,000 for major events.

The Olympic Legacy Company was due to make a decision on Friday as to whether Spurs or West Ham should be the preferred bidder for the main £500m stadium but it has delayed its verdict to allow more time to consider the relative cases.

Techno Trousers

West Ham would retain the athletics track and keep the stadium as a multi-sport venue but Spurs would rip out the track, turn it into a football-only venue and spend money on doing up the Crystal Palace athletics stadium instead.

Hearn feels the plight of his club, which is closer to the Olympic Stadium site than either of the Premier League clubs looking to move in, has been totally overlooked.

"We're the forgotten tribe of east London and we're not going to lie down as we're steamrollered by one of the Premiership giants," he commented.

"I'm going to look at the whole legal process of judicial review because I think putting us out of business or endangering our business falls into that remit.

"I'll look at legalities within the rules of the Premier League and Football League which clearly state no club will be allowed to move closer to another club which is prejudicial to another club's survival - this is definitely that.

"What happens to us? You've got a wonderful three week spectacular called the Olympics. We love it but we've been here than 135 years and that's a lot longer than three weeks."

He ruled out any possibility of his club groundsharing the Olympic Stadium when he stated: "Our average gate is 4,500 so it would look ridiculous." Hearn also commented that there was no way he would move the club to a ground with an athletics track around the pitch.

Orient-Stratford: 2.1 miles
Orient-West Ham: 4.2 miles
Upton Park-Stratford: 2.4 miles
Spurs-Stratford: 7.1 miles
(Distances: AA route planner)

A statement from Orient's board of directors said a bigger club moving in to their territory would place "a huge question mark over our long-term viability at Brisbane Road".

Orient, whose moved into their current home in 1937, are worried the prospect of a larger stadium nearby which allowed for cheaper Premier League tickets would rob them of casual fans.

West Ham have indicated cheaper tickets will be made available to schools in an effort to fill a 60,000-capacity venue should they move in and for this reason Hearn said from the O's point of view, Tottenham getting the stadium was the lesser of two evils.

Orient pointed to Premier League and Football League rules which state that consent shall only be given for clubs to move if it "would not adversely affect clubs having their registered grounds in the immediate vicinity of the proposed location".

The statement from Orient's board read: "The club has appealed to the Premier League and the Football League, both of whom would be in breach of their own regulations if they were to sanction a move for either West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur, but the silence is deafening.

"Brisbane Road sits one long goal-kick from the Olympic Park, there is no question that it is within the 'immediate vicinity'.

This is a case of Tescos moving next to the little sweet shop on the corner

Barry Hearn

"Surely their boards will recognise this at their respective meetings when the application to move ground comes in from either West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur?

"All parties must endeavour to find a solution which will satisfy all parties and whilst we are sure there will always be a Leyton Orient we can't take it for granted, sit back and be steamrollered out of existence. At this time, our voice must be heard."

The battle to take over at the Olympic Stadium has been fiercely fought.

In October, West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan reportedly said a Tottenham move would prompt "real problems that could easily lead to civil unrest".

But Hearn accused Sullivan of hypocrisy.

"If [Sullivan] is worried about Tottenham then he can only begin to have sleepless nights about the aggravation I'm going to give him if he moves on my doorstep," Hearn told the Evening Standard.

"This is total hypocrisy on his part. This is a case of Tescos moving next to the little sweet shop on the corner. It means a death knell for Leyton Orient, London's second-oldest club."

Leyton Orient were founded in 1881, two years after Fulham.

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see also
Coe backs West Ham stadium plans
23 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Leyton Orient 4-0 Sheff Wed
22 Jan 11 |  League One
Football greats in stadium debate
21 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Greaves backs Spurs' stadium plans
21 Jan 11 |  Tottenham
UK reputation 'dead' without 2012 legacy
20 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Orient reveal Olympic switch hope
08 Nov 06 |  Leyton Orient
Athletics boss fears 2012 'lie'
20 Jan 11 |  London 2012

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