Orient given hope in bid for Olympic Stadium use

Frank Dalleres
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OLYMPIC Stadium chiefs have opened the door for Leyton Orient to host matches at the east London venue but reiterated their opposition to the League One football club formally sharing with West Ham.

Legacy boss Dennis Hone has agreed to meet Orient chairman Barry Hearn to discuss the possibility of them playing “occasional” fixtures at the stadium – as recommended this week by a House of Lords report.

It is a surprise boost for Hearn’s hopes of using the refurbished London 2012 showpiece, which appeared dead when his bid for a judicial review of the decision to name West Ham main tenants failed earlier this year.

“I’ve received a letter now from Barry Hearn, requesting a meeting. We will have a meeting,” Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said yesterday.

“I’ve read the House of Lords report, and their desire to see community use in the stadium, which is a desire we all share and are working actively towards, and there could be occasional use for Leyton Orient.”

Hone emphasised that any talks would be restricted to infrequent fixtures and could not be used as a means of reviving the bid process, in which West Ham were preferred to Orient, or talk of a ground-share.

“If we can fit something in, without disrupting West Ham, on an occasional basis, to use the words that have been bandied around, then we would look at that,” he added. “But West Ham come first.”

The Lords report criticised “playground behaviour of some clubs around the future use of the Olympic Stadium” and stressed the importance of achieving returns for the taxpayer.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said Orient’s potential use of her club’s future home was “not an issue or discussion point” for the Premier League outfit.

Brady added that the search for a blue-chip company to buy naming rights to the venue would begin in January and conclude in late 2014.

“There has been an overwhelming worldwide interest in being associated with the stadium,” she said.

Redevelopment work continued yesterday when the distinctive triangular floodlights were taken down, to be mounted on a new roof before the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and West Ham take up their tenancy in 2016.