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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Orient back in hunt for Olympic Stadium

ESPN staff

The delay in deciding the future of the 2012 Olympic Stadium has opened the door for Leyton Orient to make their own last-minute bid.

• Stadium decision delayed
• Brady hits back over stadium row
• Lord Coe backs Hammers bid
• War of words over stadium

Premier League clubs West Ham and Tottenham are both vying for the right to inherit the site after the Games in 18 months' time, with markedly different bids. West Ham want to keep the existing structure - and running track - as part of a venture the whole community can enjoy, while Spurs will demolish the entire arena and construct a purpose-built football stadium from scratch, providing resoures for an athletics venue elsewhere in Crystal Palace.

The rival plans have drawn widespread debate and criticism, and on Monday the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) decided to delay their decision, originally scheduled for Friday, in order to further investigate and evaluate all the options presented to them. That has brought League One side Orient back into the mix, and they will consider reviving their own plans for the site as worries grow that a Premier League club in the area will adversely affect their attendances and revenues.

With the original fall-back option of a reduced 25,000-capacity multi-use stadium also being considered by the OPLC, Orient chairman Barry Hearn confirmed that his club would again be interested in exploring the role they could play in that possibility - as they did when the idea was originally mooted earlier in the process.

"There is another way of proceeding here, and the decision to delay is a very good one," Hearn told the Daily Telegraph. "It is a common sense decision because there are a lot of things to be talked about, not least the future of my little club. We can't turn the clock back and undo the mistakes that have been made with lots of public money, but we can take a fresh look."

Elsewhere Hearn was more robust, telling the Sun that he would be prepared to launch legal action to delay the process by as much as five years if he sensed a genuine threat to his club's future.

"If someone or something upsets me I have all I need to take this to court," he said.

Orient released a statement on their official website on Sunday hitting out at the way they have been marginalised during the whole process, pointing out that any other club moving to the Olympic Park could be against Football League rules.

It read: "The impact on Leyton Orient will be huge. The prospect of excess capacity leading to discounted tickets and the broader appeal to floating fans of a more high-profile club threatens to swamp us. 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.

"It is tragic to think that the true legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games could be the death of one of football's most-established community clubs. Is that something those in the corridors of power are prepared to shoulder the responsibility for?

"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.

"The media write about West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur. No consideration is given to Leyton Orient. The powers that be want to brush us under the carpet and suppress our views but we will not allow that to happen.

"And what of the Premier League and Football League? They both have a regulation which states their Boards shall only grant consent to a member Club to move to another ground which 'would not adversely affect Clubs having their registered grounds in the immediate vicinity of the proposed location'.

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

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