Orient launch legal fight

BY foxsports • April 14, 2011

The League One club are following in Tottenham's footsteps in applying to the High Court for a judicial review to challenge the legality of Newham Council's £40million loan to the company which will be set up to run the stadium after the Olympics and which will then rent the stadium to the Hammers. Orient chairman Barry Hearn claimed: "I have no choice but to fight to stop West Ham from getting this stadium because that would put Leyton Orient out of business. "I am the owner and chairman of Leyton Orient, which is 750 yards from the Olympic Park. "I am beset with the potential of having football from a Premiership team moving to a 60,000 stadium with a huge subsidy for it." Hearn added: "We feel it is illegal under European competition law. We are confident we can get the loan thrown out. "We are just looking for one simple thing - to stop West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium." The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) board members unanimously voted 14-0 in February to make the Hammers their first choice to move into the £486million stadium in Stratford, east London. Leyton Orient also has the Government and London mayor Boris Johnson, who have rubber-stamped the OPLC's preferred bidder choice, in their sights. Questions may also be asked of the Premier League. In a statement, Leyton Orient said: "Mishcon de Reya, the club's lawyers, will be seeking permission for a judicial review on the London borough of Newham's decision to loan £40 million to a "Stadium Company" and enter into a joint bid with West Ham United for a long-term lease of the Olympic Stadium. "Our lawyers contend that the loan is unlawful and we are seeking an order that will quash the decision to make the loan. "Further to this, the club's lawyers are in correspondence with the founder members of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, including the Government and the Mayor, with a view to a further judicial review. They are also in correspondence with the Premier League." West Ham have estimated it could cost £95million to convert the venue after the Games. The Hammers, in a joint bid with Newham Council, intend to convert the 80,000-seater stadium into a 60,000-capacity facility which retains an athletics track. The club plans to move from Upton Park in 2014-15 with a 250-year lease and to give a 250-year lease to UK Athletics (UKA). They have begun a competitive tender, which could take at least three months to complete, to find potential contractors to convert the stadium. West Ham are also still in the middle of talks to try and seal a deal with the OPLC so they can move in to the stadium. Tottenham's plans, part of a joint bid with AEG sport and entertainment group, had been to create a football-only stadium without the track and to redevelop Crystal Palace for athletics.


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