By Mike Rowbottom

Barry_Hearn_2_February_16_2011February 16 - Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn announced today that the club is taking legal advice over the possibility of a judicial review into the decision to award West Ham United use of the Olympic Stadium, which is less than a mile from Brisbane Road.

Such a review would significantly delay the process of the Premier League club taking over, even if the original decision were to be upheld.

Speaking at the Matchroom Stadium, Hearn added that he has written to the Prime Minister and to London's Mayor Boris Johnson outlining Orient's deep concern over the situation.

Friday's recommendation by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has still to be ratified by both the Mayor's office and the Government.

But Orient believe the arrival of West Ham contravenes Premier League rules about club's not adversely affecting each other's livelihood.

Hearn has also outlined his concerns to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics.

"It's a question of due process and whether the Olympic Park Legacy Company, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and even the Prime Minister have given consideration to Leyton Orient in these discussions," Hearn said today in Orient's first official response to the OPLC decision.

"The government has a responsibility to take into account all the effects of any ruling they take.

"We are awaiting what I assume is a rubber-stamp decision from Boris Johnson and the DCMS to award West Ham the stadium.

"But I find it incredible they would even consider making the decision before undergoing due process in regard to the effect on the incumbent football club."

Hearn's major concern is with the suggestions from West Ham that they would offer free and heavily discounted tickets upon their arrival in the £537 million ($836 million) stadium.

Their current average attendance is just over 30,000, with the Olympic Stadium likely to hold around double that after re-development.

Hearn fears the incentives on offer to locals to fill the ground could force his club out of existence.

West Ham's vice-chair Karren Brady said last week that West Ham plan to sell family tickets to games for just £10.

"The comments last week about the number of complimentary tickets available and family tickets for the price of a single ticket have grave implications for our club," Hearn said.

"Leyton Orient has been in existence for 130 years and by any stretch of the imagination we are the incumbent club.

"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.

"We have asked our lawyers about the benefits or otherwise of a full judicial review where we will be challenging the right of the Government to make that decision.

"I have written to David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Hugh Robertson and Jeremy Hunt asking them not to rubber-stamp West Ham's move at this stage and at least give us the respect, the decency and the right to put our case forward about the continuation of our football club."

There are also fears that programmes run by the Leyton Orient Community Sports programme could be affected, with West Ham being likely to want to generate their own community efforts in the area.

Hearn has already spoken in principle of the possibility of sharing the Olympic Stadium with West Ham.

There has also been discussion about the club relocating to Essex.

Less than 100 season ticket holders inhabit the same neighbourhood as the club, but fans who met up to witness the OPLC decision on Friday voiced their strong opposition to any move.

One of them told BBC sport that the decision would mark "the start of a campaign."

Meanwhile the Honorary President of the Football League, Brian Mawhinney (pictured), has called upon the DCMS to ratify West Ham's possession of the site, adding that it would be "weak and cowardly" for the Government to reject the recommendation of the Olympic Park Legacy Company.


The Tory ex-Cabinet minister, a former chairman of the Football League, said at question time in the House of Lords: "It would be a weak and cowardly decision to reverse what the legacy organisation has already decided as far as the Olympics is concerned."

Referring to the assurances about Olympic legacy given by the team which bid successfully for the 2012 Games at the IOC executive meeting in Singapore six years ago, he added: "This country would never again in the foreseeable future win the right to host any international sporting event if it was proved in this case that our word was not our bond."

His view was echoed by that of Tory ex-minister Lord Higgins, who represented Britain at athletics in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.

He told peers: "It would seriously damage Britain's reputation and make it difficult for any other sports to bid successfully for any major international events if we don't fulfil the obligations we undertook with the IOC regarding the Olympic legacy."

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