London 2012 Stadium “not fit for football” says Hearn
February 16, 2012
London’s Olympic Stadium has been labelled “not fit for football” by one of the chairman’s bidding to become tenants there after the 2012 Games.
Barry Hearn, chairman of third-tier Leyton Orient, has long wanted his club, whose current Brisbane Road ground is the closest to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, to play at the 468 million pounds ($734 million) venue after the Games.
He even launched a legal challenge when nearby West Ham were chosen as tenants ahead of north London Premier League highflyers Tottenham Hotspur.
The decision in favour of West Ham was overturned last year and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) have re-opened bidding.
There are fears the stadium — which is due to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships — will become an expensive “white elephant” without a footballing tenant, as it won`t be able to stage enough athletics events to cover its costs.
Hearn, while still interested in a move, said if the running track remained in place the Olympic Stadium would be unsuitable for football.
“We`re looking at it but, I have to say, after my tour of the stadium, I become more and more convinced that this stadium is not fit for football purposes,” Hearn said.
Hearn added that a lack of foresight had left the OPLC without a post-Games tenant just months before the start of the Olympics.
“No one is actually taking responsibility for admitting they`ve built a wrong stadium,” he said.
“They didn`t listen to advice five years ago when everyone was saying what type of stadium can work.”
“Legacy is absolutely vital. This is taxpayers` money we`re talking about –600 million pounds of taxpayers` money. We can`t just sweep this under the counter.”
“We have to face these problems and be honest. Let`s use some common sense but most of all let`s be honest with where we`re going to go.”
“Otherwise it`s going to be a horrendous `white elephant`. We`ve seen it around the world. Let`s not let it happen to London.”
“Four years ago the OPLC announced they were going to have their tenants lined up in a matter of months — that was four years ago and we`re no closer.”
by Ismail Uddin