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Hearn: I'm here to stop West Ham

Filed: Tuesday, 18th October 2011
By: Staff Writer

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has admitted that the driving force behind his Olympic Stadium campaign is to prevent West Ham United from taking occupancy.

Hearn, speaking with BBC FiveLive ahead of West Ham's Championship clash with Southampton tonight also revealed that he wouldn't consider moving Orient to Stratford should the current plans to make the stadium a 60,000 seater venue post next summer's games be adhered to.

"My whole driving force behind this is I totally believe that if West Ham take occupancy [of the Olympic Stadium], Leyton Orient will go out of business," he said. "I don't believe enough people have spent enough time thinking about us.

"Obviously we don't want West Ham on our doorstep so we'd like the opportunity to bid. But there is no way that Orient will move in as a football club and play with 50 yards of athletics track between the fans and the footballers.

"But if we do it and can restrict the capacity down to the original plan of 25,000, we're players."

Hearn also raised the possibility of reaching agreement with, "a consortium of people interested in a variety of sports", with whom to share use of the 500million stadium - echoing West Ham's previously accepted proposal which included Newham Council (whom he suggested had "thrown the towel in"), Essex Cricket Club plus a worldwide concert promoter.

Despite having been partly responsible for the breakdown in the previous process by continuing to proceed with legal action against the OPLC's decision to award use of the stadium to West Ham United - a stance that could hit the taxpayer with an unexpected 95million bill - Hearn claimed that forcing a new completely new application process would actually be for the benefit of the public purse.

"It gives us the chance to create a better funding vehicle so that the whole episode does not come at a huge cost to the public purse in these difficult times," the former accountant surmised, without a trace of irony.

"I'm more hopeful now the whole thing has blown up that people will exercise a little more common sense and a little more restraint when it comes to spending the Government's money. This is my primary concern.

"We've all got to pull in the same direction. We don't want anything to detract from the spirit of the Olympic Games."

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