Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn says club will contest Olympic Stadium decision

16 February 2011 04:26

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has put himself on a collision course with the government and the Premier League after threatening to launch a judicial review if West Ham are handed the keys to the Olympic Stadium.

Hearn has revealed that he has written to leading politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to request they delay the decision to ratify the Olympic Park Legacy Committee's decision to name the Hammers as preferred bidders.

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Having seen off interest from rival bidders Tottenham, that finalstep had previously been considered a formality but Hearn has promisedto do everything in his power to ensure Orient's interests are heard.

They are the closest team to the site of the Olympic Stadium andHearn has issued a warning that the incentivised ticket deals West Hamwould need to employ to fill the ground would erode the npower LeagueOne club's fanbase and potentially send them to the wall.

Hearn also believes the Premier League would be in breach of theirown rules should they allow West Ham to move without properconsultation of Orient, and will meet chief executive Richard Scudamoreon Friday to discuss the matter.

'It is a question of due process and whether the Olympic Park LegacyCommittee, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and even thePrime Minister have given consideration to Leyton Orient in thesediscussions,' said Hearn.

Eyes on the prize: Orient chairman Hearn (centre) says the club will challenge the Olympic Park Legacy Committee's decision

'The government has a responsibility to take into account all theeffects of any ruling they take. We are awaiting what I assume is arubberstamp decision from Boris Johnson and the DCMS to award West Hamthe stadium.

'But I find it incredible they would even consider making thatdecision before undergoing due process in regard to the effects on theincumbent club.

'It has grave implications for us. Leyton Orient has been inexistence for 130 years and to have a giant like West Ham on ourdoorstep offering discounted and free tickets would seriously bringinto question the survival of Leyton Orient.'

Hearn, whose background as a boxing promoter means he is well usedto deal-making and brinkmanship, left no doubt as to how far he iswilling to go to have his club's voice heard.

On site: The Olympic Stadium

'Judicial review is something no-one wants to get involved inbecause these things can go on for years and years and years and whilethey are everything else is frozen,' he said.

'It's a threatening tool, a wake-up call to say "have you gonethrough the correct process.if you haven't may I advise you verystrongly to delay until you have".

'The advice I'm getting is that I have grounds against the PremierLeague and I have grounds for judicial review to have the processexamined.'

Turning his attention to the Premier League, Hearn outlined why hefelt they would be unable to simply wave through West Ham's move to theOlympic Stadium.

'The rules of the Premier League, to my untrained legal eyes, are very black and white,' he continued.

'They say they will not grant consent for a club to move grounds ifit would adversely effect clubs who have their registered ground in theimmediate vicinity.

'I am meeting Richard Scudamore on Friday to see how he interpretshis own rules because it seems to me legally challengeable should theysanction West Ham's move without discussion with us about how we canguarantee the future of this football club.'

In closing, Hearn declared any decision that would threaten Orient'sfuture to be in direct contrast to the Olympic spirit itself.

Hearn said: 'I have no grudge with West Ham. I have a grudge withthe government. I have a grudge with bullies. I have a grudge withpeople making decisions without the correct processes. I have a grudgewith people who write rules and then ignore them.

'I think it rather ironic that the legacy of the Olympics could bethe demise of a local community club. That's actually against theOlympic ethos.'

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Source: Daily_Mail