September 29 - Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn today accused London Mayor Boris Johnson of trying to give Tottenham Hotspur "a bung" to try to get them to drop their claim to the Olympic Stadium in the hope of removing the main obstacle to London's bid to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships being successful.
Johnson wants the Premier League club to drop their legal action over the award of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United and is helping to fund a £17 million ($27 million/€19.5 million) package in infrastructure improvements to the club to develop a new ground next to White Hart Lane.
The Mayor's office and Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson are putting increasing pressure on Tottenham to reach an agreement and abandon a judicial review due to be heard in the High Court next month before an Evaluation Commission from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) arrives in London on Sunday (October 1) to inspect the capital's bid.
The fear is that if the row is allowed to drag on it could scupper yet another London bid and hand its only rival Doha an open goal to exploit.
But Hearn, whose club have joined Tottenham in the application for the judicial review of the Olympic Stadium decision because he claims the proximity of it to their current ground at Brisbane Road will put them out of business, told talkSPORT: "Boris has made his move to try and placate Tottenham and if I'm being cynical, it looks like a bung just to get him out of a court case.
"I come from the real world and I can recognise a bung when I see it."
The £17 million ($27 million/€19.5 million) offer is from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Haringey Council to help develop the Northumberland Development Project (NDP) and the London Mayor's office rejected the suggestion that it was inappropriate.
They have also denied a report on insidethegames earlier that Tottenham have until tomorrow to accept the offer or risk it being withdrawn, saying talks with the club are still continuing, although several senior sources have confirmed that the deadline exists.
"To suggest that the proposed offer from the GLA and Haringey Council towards Tottenham Hotspur is an inappropriate use of funds is entirely inaccurate," a spokesman for Johnson said.
Hearn said League One Orient will push ahead with action in the High Court on October 18 against Newham Borough Council and the Olympic Park Legacy Company and are claiming that West Ham are being given a "state subsidy" in taking over the Olympic Stadium.
"Frankly, West Ham are getting a great deal," said Hearn.
"[Co-owner] David Gold said, and I quote, 'We know the Stadium's not perfect but this is a £600 million ($937 million/€690 million) stadium and we're getting it for £30 million ($47 million/€35 million), so it's too good a deal to turn down'.
"Well, good luck to him, but if that's not state aid then I don't know what is.
"What West Ham do is up to them and what Tottenham do is up to them.
"But I don't think there's any doubt that if West Ham do take off they'll put us out of business.
"The one little outfit that's being completely overlooked is little Leyton Orient Football Club, and the community work they do, which is supposed to be so important in the world in which we live.
"We seem to be the forgotten tribe of the East End.
"The Premier League has got rules they've not understood.
"They're hoping we'll go away quietly, but anyone who knows me knows that 'quiet' is not a word that features in my vocabulary."
A senior Tottenham source acknowledged that they were coming under pressure to reach a deal with Johnson but insisted that they would not be rushed into committing themselves to the Northumberland Park Development plan.
"There is a lot of pushing and shoving going on because they [London and the Government] desperately want the 2017 track and field discuissions," they told insidethegames.
"That's all understandable but this is about making sure we are not left without a stadium option.
"We cannot stick solely to the NPD project until we know it is absolutely do-able.
"It does not pan out that Boris pledges £8.5 million ($13.5 million/€10 million) and the development can suddenly happen.
"It is a much more complex package."
Officially, Tottenham are claiming that last month's riots in the area have not helped their plans, in which they have already invested £60 million ($94 million/€69 million) in buying land and another £25 million ($39 million/€29 million) on the planning process.
"We are the major employer and economic driver in the area and are now the only major private sector business here that is looking to invest and play its part in the regeneration of an area which has suffered from decades of under-investment," said Daniel Levy, the club's chairman.
"Given recent events, Tottenham needs our concerted efforts to reverse the decline of decades and create a community with hope and prospects of future prosperity.
"Both local and national government now recognise the important role our new stadium development can play in kick-starting this.
"The proposed stadium scheme and wider area development has the potential to lever hundreds of millions of pounds worth of much-needed regenerative development to Tottenham.
"But we cannot be expected to do this single-handedly.
"We have seen land values fall again post the recent riots and this is a further concern for the club as it considers the nature of the investment.
"The overall scheme requires a complex package of financing of which the correct level and nature of public support is critical.
"It would be wholly irresponsible of us to announce we were proceeding with the scheme without the appropriate agreements and support firmly in place."
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