Hearn to mount new legal challenge against Olympic Stadium future
Wednesday, 06 March 2013
March 6 - Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn is set to mount a legal challenge over the future of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, he has revealed.
The London Legacy Development Corporation has named West Ham United as the preferred bidder to move into the venue, claiming the process had been "robust, fair and transparent".
The Legacy Company and the Premier League club are now on the verge of agreeing a deal for the £429 million ($691 million/€528 million) venue but Hearn has claimed he will be calling for a judicial review over the process, suggesting that the idea of a ground share between his League One side and West Ham was not properly considered.
"We believe the rules of the bidding process set out by the LLDC have not been followed," Hearn told BBC London.
"We are challenging them by asking the High Court to issue a judicial review.
"All parties signed up to the principle of 'teaming' and we don't think that serious consideration has been given to Leyton Orient sharing or 'teaming' with West Ham in the occupancy of the Olympic Stadium.
"Our legal advice is that there is a fundamental flaw in the LLDC's bidding process that has to be rectified.
"I went to two Queen's Counsels to be instructed on this and they both agreed that this whole operation has been a massive mistake by LLDC.
"Those are their words, not mine.
"As such we are very confident the judicial review will show us to be correct and the bidding process will have to take into account the teaming principles.
"We know we are fighting for our future and survival.
"We have to follow the rules as laid down and other parties have to follow them as well.
"Clearly that has not been done and we want to know why."
Leyton Orient and West Ham were among four parties to bid for tenancy of the venue, along with UCFB College of Football Business and a consortium linked to Formula 1.
West Ham were named as the preferred bidder in December last year in what is the second attempt to resolve the Olympic Stadium's future use.
The initial process also identified West Ham as preferred bidders but it collapsed in October 2011 following a legal challenge by Tottenham Hotspur and other difficulties.
"A major club can ground share with a smaller one," Hearn said.
"I don't think occupancy by West Ham and Leyton Orient hurts either team.
"It prolongs and extends the legacy of the Olympic Park and makes it vibrant.
"West Ham moving to the Olympic Park will put a huge amount of pressure on Leyton Orient to survive at all.
"We are 750 yards away [from the Olympic Park] trying to compete with Premiership football.
"We have no chance in the long-term.
"The common sense way out is; why don't we share the ground?
"I don't understand why this principle of 'teaming' is being ignored by the LLDC and West Ham.
"Unfortunately and because of the intransigence of certain people we have to go back to court to have the original bid process disqualified."
The Legacy Company has expressed their disappointment at Hearn's comments but believe their process will survive the scrutiny of a legal challenge.
"We have been notified that Leyton Orient have made the decision to issue proceedings for judicial review," said a statement from the Legacy Company.
"Whilst this is disappointing, we believe that our processes have been robust, fair and transparent and that the challenge is misconceived."
The Legacy Company Board is due to meet next on March 26 but earlier this week West Ham co-owner David Gold said they were closing in on agreeing a deal with them, naming March 16 as the date.
Therefore, an extraordinary general meeting of the Legacy Company could be called if an agreement over the venue is reached before then.
March 2013: Olympic Stadium deal to be completed this month says West Ham co-owner
February 2013: Deal for West Ham to move to Olympic Stadium close, claims London Mayor
February 2013: London 2012 Olympic Stadium announcement close, claims West Ham vice-chairman
December 2012: West Ham bid to take over Olympic Stadium given greenlight by Legacy Company but safety net put in place
November 2012: Delay over Olympic Stadium is a "Stratford farce" claims UK Athletics chairman