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Orient enters arena over Olympic stadium deal

16 February 2011

West Ham is the preferred bidder for legacy use of the London Olympics stadium, but Leyton Orient could upset the game through a legal challenge.

The Olympic Park Legacy Committee named West Ham over Tottenham Hotspurs as the group to take over the 80,000-seat stadium. West Ham, unlike Tottenham, is going to keep the athletics track around the pitch – a strategy as part of London’s winning bid for the 2012 Olympics.

The stadium can be dismantled down to a 25,000-seat venue that would keep its track and field facilities surrounding a sports field.

West Ham proposes to keep the track and convert the stadium into a 60,000-seat multi-purpose venue for football, athletics, T20 cricket, music and community events. The club also will get £40m financial backing from Newham Council.

Leyton Orient claim that if West Ham moves into the stadium, their proximity would threaten Orient’s existence.

Leyton Orient chairman, Barry Hearn, wrote to the prime minister, David Cameron, and London mayor, Boris Johnson, asking them to review the decision, according to a report in the Guardian. Johnson has yet to put his rubber stamp on the decision.

At the time FM World went to press, Hearn was in talks with his legal team about a judicial review. This could significantly delay the process of confirming West Ham's tenancy, the Guardian said.

"It's a question of due process and whether the Olympic Park Legacy Committee, the department for culture, media and sport and even the prime minister have given consideration to Leyton Orient in these discussions," Hearn said.

“Leyton Orient has been in existence for 130 years and by any stretch of the imagination we are the incumbent club,” Hearn said. “To have a giant like West Ham on our doorstep offering discounted and free tickets would seriously bring into question the survival of Leyton Orient.”