Orient to Ask for Judicial Review Next Week Over OS Row

March 11, 2011

English League One soccer club Leyton Orient have confirmed that they will move to the courts next week asking for a judicial review of the Government’s decision to house Premier League club West Ham United in the Olympic stadium after the Games.

If successful, the club’s chairman Barry Hearn’s decision to go to the law could mean months of discussion are still to come, on an issue the Government thought it had finally settled last month.

Speaking at an International Sports Security Conference, Hearn confirmed: “Our lawyers, Mischon de Reya have been instructed to proceed with all haste to a full application of a judicial review. 

“We will make a written application next week. 

“We want the whole West Ham rubber stamping to be put on hold, whilst the parties have an opportunity to do something they haven’t done properly. 

“This is to consider the effect on Leyton Orient Football club and to consider whether the plans they have for West Ham’s occupancy of the Olympic stadium is a proper resolve of government application of funds.”

Hearn sees the judicial review as “part of his battle plan” to force the Government to change its mind, adding: “We hope the judicial review will be granted which gives all the parties, Government, Minister of Sport, Minister of Culture, West Ham United, an opportunity to judge whether this system was fundamentally flawed. 

“Or whether it was in breach of European law or British law. 

“It will also give an opportunity for Leyton Orient to put their case that West Ham moving into the Olympics stadium, under their current pricing arrangements, is a fundamental breach of law.”

The Orient case will be that by allowing West Ham to move into the Olympic stadium, “it puts the future of Leyton Orient football club seriously in doubt. 

“It is certainly a breach of competition law and predatory pricing law.”

Orient, says Hearn, will argue “West Ham are going to give tickets away, or make thousands of rickets available on a hugely discounted basis which gives them an unfair advantage under European competition law. 

“That is predatory pricing, a case of a large commercial entity moving into an area with a pricing policy aimed at putting other people out of business.”

Hearn admitted his growing fears for the club if their legal battle is unsuccessful, saying: “We will go out of business if West Ham, under their current rules operate out of the Olympic stadium and we are left where we are left.”

Hearn hinted that one way out of this potential impasse could be compensation, adding: “What is the way forward? Is it a compensation issue? Or should we be part of the Olympic Park itself rather than be the forgotten tribe of East London? 

“We are open to suggestions but we can’t get the dialogue started unless everything else is put on hold. The whole point of judicial review is everything stops.

“We are still holding fire on any future action against either the Premier League or Football League. 

“We have sent letters to them and we are waiting a reply from the Premier League on our case against them. 

“We believe the Premier League are fundamentally flawed as well in their decision making process under their own rules. 

“The Football League have been deafening in their silence. 

“I am sure common sense will tell them they have an obligation to represent and support a member club of their company. 

“Leyton Orient are one of the founder members of the Football League and we have rights within that membership of the Football League.”

Hearn feels it is the Coalition Government that is responsible for what he calls ‘the present mess’, stating: “I have to say I blame the incumbent Government. 

“They preach the big society, community values, family values. 

“They have totally ignored a community, family club with a history dating back to 130 years. 

“I blame people that have ignored us and tried to hide behind, ‘Oh the Premier League have sanctioned it’ without considering the Premier League rules themselves and have taken that as black and white as a job done. 

“I blame bullies in society, people who think they can ride rough shod over the little man.”