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Top of the South Stand: London Calling as Hearn gets up to his old tricks again

12:28 08 October 2012

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn.

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn.

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Our Leyton Orient blogger discusses his club’s proposed name change.

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It was revealed on Friday that Leyton Orient’s owner Barry Hearn would consider a name change for the club if it managed to secure a lease to the magnificent Olympic Stadium in his latest attempt to make sure Orient’s name is not forgotten in the ongoing saga.

The process which has lasted for several years prior to the games taking place in Stratford this summer, is set to end later this month as a supposed final decision on the future of the stadium is made.

Hearn has always made sure of his club’s interest in any move to the Olympic area. After his initial plans for the Hockey Arena were quickly muted, he followed that up with the even more ambitious idea of moving into the 60,000 seater centrepiece.

Ever since, the Orient chairman has been embroiled in a farcical media war with the owners of West Ham United, as both teams battle to win the right to play in Stratford.

During this period Hearn has pulled every note out of his media playbook to keep everyone aware of the plight of his club. With dwindling attendances, a lack of local interest and a substantial financial deficit every year, a potential move by West Ham nearer to Orient could prove disastrous for the League 1 side.

But Hearn is not daft. Like any decent businessman he doesn’t like to make a loss, and can see an opportunity when it arises. With him looking to sell the club for the past few years without much luck, “Bazza” has been looking to reclaim some of the lost millions spent on woeful Orient teams of the past; and the prospect of a brand new stadium for no building cost is one too good to turn down.

The big problem in Hearn’s plan are the claret and blue neighbours. With the owners at Upton Park looking to expand in an attempt to begin to wipe away at some of their reported 90 million pound debt, they are seen as the preferred and more realistic future tenants of the Olympic Stadium. The Irons fanbase of 30,000 supporters every home game would also be seen as far more compatible with the stadium rather than Orient’s 3,000.

But all hope is not lost if the Hammers get the stadium. The O’s will be due a large compensation package by either West Ham or the Premier and Football League, as a move to the Olympic Stadium would contravene the rules of the Leagues which state a club cannot move to within another club’s catchment area. The compensation could provide the reds, the chance to fund a move away from Brisbane Road which according to Hearn is the only practical option for a successful future for Leyton Orient.

Regardless of what happens later on this month there is one thing you can be sure of. Barry Hearn will keep fighting for his future by using any means possible to make sure his club and business stay alive.

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