Olympic Stadium decision threatens local club

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The battle for tenancy of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium is set to continue after the body responsible for the decision indefinitely postponed the board meeting at which it was due to consider the rival bids from Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.

Both clubs will be forced to reassess their lobbying strategies after the Olympic Park Legacy Company decided it needed more time to make the decision on naming a preferred bidder. However, the decision is set to have a much wider impact on the local football community and directly affect the future of one forgotten team in particular – League Ones Leyton Orient Football Club, a 130–year club that is set to face Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Englands domestic football knockout cup competition. According to a statement issued by the board of directors of Leyton Orient FC in late January 2011, the decision will have grave implications on the future of London's second–oldest Football League Club and threaten its proud traditions as a community–based Club. The impact on Leyton Orient will be huge, said the statement. The prospect of excess capacity leading to discounted tickets and the broader appeal to floating fans of a more high–profile club threatens to swamp us. A huge question mark hangs over Leyton Orients long–term viability at Brisbane Road with the move of another professional football club to within a mile of what has been the clubs home since 1937. It is tragic to think that the true legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games could be the death of one of football's most–established community clubs, continued the statement. Is that something those in the corridors of power are prepared to shoulder the responsibility for? The club has appealed to the Premier League and the Football League, both of whom would be in breach of their own regulations if they were to sanction a move for either West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur, but the silence is deafening, according to Leyton Orients statement. We've done things the right way. We haven't gone in to administration and cheated our way in to staying in business; we've invested in our community reaching over 130, 000 people per year across six boroughs; we've invested in our youth programme giving local kids a chance; we've modernised our stadium by re–building three stands; we pay our bills and our wages on time and we always will. The media write about West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur. No consideration is given to Leyton Orient. The powers that be want to brush us under the carpet and suppress our views but we will not allow that to happen. Leyton Orient has asked where the mayor of London Boris Johnson sits on this issue? Could he sleep at night knowing that those he has entrusted the future of east London to have betrayed so many of their people by damaging, potentially irreversibly, something that means so much to them? And what of the Premier League and Football League? They both have a regulation which states their Boards shall only grant consent to a member club to move to another ground which 'would not adversely affect clubs having their registered grounds in the immediate vicinity of the proposed location'. Leyton Orient is concerned that because Brisbane Road sits one long goal–kick from the Olympic Park, there is no question that it is within the 'immediate vicinity' and therefore will affect the future of its own fanbase. Surely their Boards will recognise this at their respective meetings when the application to move ground comes in from either West Ham United or Tottenham Hotspur? All parties must endeavour to find a solution which will satisfy all parties and whilst we are sure there will always be a Leyton Orient we can't take it for granted, sit back and be steamrollered out of existence. At this time, our voice must be heard.

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