Hearn wants the truth

Orient boss says Olympic Stadium not fit for football

By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH.   Last Updated: 16/02/12 12:07pm

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A furious Barry Hearn told Sky Sports News that Leyton Orient will be looking to recoup their legal costs after revelations about the bidding process for the Olympic Stadium - which he says could become a huge white elephant as it is not fit to be used as a football stadium.

Hearn's Leyton Orient launched an appeal to stop West Ham's move into the Olympic Stadium claiming that the bidding process was flawed, but all legal proceedings were stopped when an 'anonymous complainant' brought the process to a halt.

Sky Sports News has now revealed that the complaint came from architect Steve Lawrence, the man who did the original legacy study and who claims he was not 'anonymous' to the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

Hearn now wants the OPLC and the government to come out and reveal the entire truth, and he also wants Orient's legal fees back.

"This is a horrifying situation, there are a number of really important questions that need to be asked," Hearn told Sky Sports News.

"Yes, the reason the judicial review was pulled by the OPLC and the government was because they knew they'd broken the law, a European law was being breached in the question of state aid.


"They've invented a reason, and we thought that at the time, and blamed this so-called anonymous complainant for pulling the plug on the review and abandoning the process, but the fact remains this person was not anonymous and they've misled a judge in the high court to think that was the reason why they were pulling the plug on the whole bidding process.

"Baroness Ford, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and our colleagues at the OPLC have a number of questions to answer here, have they misled a judge in the high court or have they themselves been misled by their own colleagues.

"For us at Leyton Orient we're sitting on hundreds of thousands of pounds of legal bills that were thwarted because this process was stopped by the government, it was stopped on incorrect grounds, on misleading evidence - the anonymous complainant was never anonymous.

"We're taking legal advice on whether we appeal the courts views on costs. We'd like someone to take responsibility and admit responsibility, we want the truth, we want it out in the open.

"The fact is the bid process was halted because Leyton Orient brought about a very worthwhile case that proved the bid process was flawed.

"I'd like someone to admit that, we're fighting our corner on this case, we've been seriously punished by the courts on legal costs when in fact we were going to win the case."

White elephant

Hearn says Orient will keep their options open, but another bid to try and use the venue seems highly unlikely as he is convinced the Olympic Stadium is not fit to house a football team.

"It's a wonderful athletics stadium, I appreciate it's great for the Olympics but it's just not viable as a football venue, it just doesn't work at all," he added.

"After my tour of the stadium I'm becoming more and more convinced that this stadium is not fit for football purposes, obviously we're keeping our options open to see how the land lies and if there are any alternatives.

"The Olympic Stadium is only 700 yards from our current ground and we've got a huge vested interest, but I have to say, wonderful stadium though it is, I don't think it makes a good football ground.

"There are some serious problems with this stadium and let's just hope it's not an horrendous white elephant, we've seen it happen all around the world, let's hope it doesn't happen in London."

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