THE chairman of Leyton Orient has cast fresh doubt over the future of the Olympic Stadium after he reportedly said today that he did not want to have a running track between the stands and the crowd.
League Two side Orient are widely tipped to move into the Stadium after it has staged the 2012 Olympics and been downgraded to a 25,000-capacity arena.
But Barry Hearn, the controversial chairman of Orient, has claimed in an interview published in The Daily Mail today that one of the conditions is that there is no gap between the pitch and the spectators.
And that any money the club makes from the sale of its current ground they want to invest in signing David Beckham rather than contributing towards the cost of the new Stadium.
He told the newspaper: "I've told them (London 2012) that we'd need retractable seating in there because I don't want a running track between our crowd and the football pitch.
"My lot (the crowd) are quiet enough as it is."
Sebastian Coe, the chairnan of London 2012, has repeatedly promised that athletics will be left with a legacy after the Games.
But such a system of needing retracable seating would undoubtedly add to the cost and could prove prohibitive.
Premiership club West Ham United had initially expressed an interest about moving to the Stadium after the Games but that have left no legacy for athletics, as happened when Manchester City took over the City of Manchester Stadium following the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the track was ripped up.
Without an anchor tennant, the Olympics Stadium would be used a maximum of up to eight times a year in athletics mode and would be considered a white-elephant.
Hearn is clearly confident, though, that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and other orgnisations involved in the Stadium will agree to his demands to ensure that scenario is avoided.
He said: "Well, they don't want to end up with an empty ground that is only used for athletics three times a year with grass growing through the seats?
"That's not a great legacy for Seb Coe, is it?"
Hearn also told the Daily Mail that Orient would not pay anything towards the Stadium being re-configured after the Games.
He said: "There are some design issues and some cost issues to resolve on the stadium.
"We're not paying a penny for it but we can help them out of a mess."
Hearn instead wants to invest the money Orient will earn from the sale of their current ground at Brisbane Road to improving the quality of his side, including possibly signing former England captain Beckham, to help fill their potential new ground.
He told the Daily Mail: "We would need to invest the money we'd make from the sale of our current ground in the team.
"We'd need to put out a side with an iconic figure to draw the crowds.
"David Beckham was here when he was nine, he's a local boy, so what about getting him back to East London at the end of his career?
'It's a dream but you've got to have dreams.
"He'll be 37, 38 in 2013.
"Interesting thought, eh?
'It would need someone like him to draw the crowds."
A spokesman for the ODA told insidethegames: "“After the Games the Olympic Stadium will be transformed into a 25,000 seat IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) compliant stadium.
"It is obviously very early days – over four years before the Games take place - and clearly it is not realistic to expect every issue to be resolved at this point.
"Very positive discussions, being conducted in partnership with the London Development Agency, are continuing with a range of potential tenants about their requirements, including Leyton Orient.
"The Olympic Board has made clear its commitment to the communities of London and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to have a sustainable athletics, multi-sport and community concept in legacy.”
The full article can be read at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/othersports.html?in_article_id=519570&in_page_id=1781.