Fans back Hearn in Orient’s fight for survival
O’s chief believes that if West Ham move to the Olympic Stadium it would be terminal for Orient
ORIENT fans have backed chairman Barry Hearn after he launched a blistering attack on his West Ham counterpart David Sullivan.
The Matchroom boss branded Sullivan a hypocrite for attacking Tottenham’s bid to move to the Olympic Stadium.
Hearn is angry that the Hammers are considering a move on to Orient’s doorstep and he feels that would put the League One side’s future in doubt.
If West Ham move in, there would be little alternative for the O’s, but to move out and look to relocate.
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However, Rory MacQueen, co-editor of the club’s fanzine The Orientear, believes Hearn is right to try and stop West Ham moving into the Olympic Stadium, but insists whether that happens or not, the O’s cannot leave their spitiual home.
MacQueen explained: “It has always been the fanzine’s view that we don’t want the club to leave the area and Hearn is right. If West Ham move in, it would put our future in jeopardy.”
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While Sullivan had warned of “riots” and “civil unrest” if Tottenham gazumped West Ham’s attempts to take over the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games, MacQueen believes there is little Orient fans can do if the deal was to go through and the Hammers moved in.
“We can’t influence multi-million pound deals like this. I’m glad the chairman has made his views known and we would support him on this issue, but I don’t think we can do anything about it,” said MacQueen
“I can’t see Orient fans taking to the street in protest.
“But we are committed to keep the club in the area – and this would only make things more difficult.”
Hearn is worried about the huge impact West Ham will have if they move to within a mile of Brisbane Road. “This is a case of Tesco moving next to the little sweet shop on the corner as far as I’m concerned,” said Hearn.
“A club that has a 30-35,000 support-base is moving into an 80,000-seater stadium. It means very cheap tickets and it means the death knell of Leyton Orient.
“I’m not upset about Tottenham, because they have no chance of getting it. I’m upset because no one is talking about the damage West Ham will do us, because it would be terminal. It would kill the club stone dead.
“We seem to be the forgotten people here. We are less that one kilometre from a stadium that holds double what their existing stadium holds. There is no way I’m going to lay down while they trample all over me.”
The O’s were once linked with a move to the Olympic Stadium themselves, but that is dead in the water and although possible moves to Harlow and Ilford have been muted, there are no concrete plans in the pipleine.
But MacQueen believes the O’s must fight for a future alongside the Hammers.
“We can’t use this as an excuse to move out. We have got to offer more value for money and improve as a football club,” he said.
“I don’t think it would be a good move for West Ham, but that’s another story. This is our spiritual home and we do not want to move out to Harlow. We don’t want to leave Leyton.
“If West Ham move in, we would be pessimistic about our future, but Orient is an east London club and it has to stay that way.
“People don’t want to slap out to Harlow and I believe it’s a myth that there is an untapped reservoir of fans out of the area.
“People in Harlow get on the train and travel in to watch Tottenham or West Ham.
“With a population of seven or eight million we have got a bigger potential to attract fans if we stay in London.”