Olympic Stadium call a Hammer blow

Friday 5th April 2013 19:26

Olympic Stadium: Will be West Ham's new home

Olympic Stadium: Will be West Ham's new home

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Leyton Orient FanZoner Craig Rodhouse hits out at the decision to hand the keys of the Olympic Stadium over to West Ham.

It's the story which has dominated the country's sporting agenda over the past few years and believe it or not, my team are stuck right in the thick of it.

I would not begrudge any sports fan for not realising the enormity of our involvement in the Olympic Stadium debacle; such has been the extent to which we have been forgotten in almost every conversation about the issue.

First and foremost, the Olympic Stadium has been built on the most unsteady foundations possible; pig-headed event organisers seemed intent on spending £486 million on a stadium that would have no practical use after the Olympics. Their naivety has been unearthed and everybody involved with the stadium now seems to be trying to cover their tracks.

Unfortunately for Leyton Orient, this backtracking has been at the extent of our club, as the central and local government now seem intent on giving the stadium to the party that can throw the most money at it. I don't remember that being one of the Olympic legacy principles now.

It goes without saying that West Ham are going to be the party that makes the best financial use of the stadium, but I can't remember Lord Coe ever mentioning this in his numerous Olympic legacy speeches before, during and after the Games.

The Olympic legacy was meant to be about promoting sport for EVERYONE, not just the elite. If West Ham are given the Olympic stadium, where does that leave our legacy programme? The Olympic legacy is not about the elite, but we've decided to give the stadium to a Premier League side five miles away, potentially bankrupting one of the most community-based football clubs in the country that live just a few hundred yards away.

But what really doesn't make sense to me is how the local government are seemingly bankrolling the Hammers move into the stadium. The council of one of the most deprived boroughs in London is now loaning the club £40 million to convert the stadium into one which is fit for football. It is ludicrous to even contemplate that the general public (those that paid for the Olympics in the first place) now have to finance a recovery mission that should never have been needed in the first place.

Orient supporters are not stupid, we know that we be lost in the Olympic Stadium and our 4,000 average attendances would make the atmosphere at home games somewhat reminiscent of Leyton Library, but we have to be considered.

The effect that West Ham moving into the Olympic Stadium would have on us is undoubted, locals are not going to want to pay £10 to see Orient play in League One, if they can pay half that and see a Premier League side.

In an ideal world, neither us nor West Ham would have the Olympic Stadium, but we've all seen where the government's loyalties lie and it would be foolish to anticipate a rapid change of heart on their part any time soon.

A ground share would still not be perfect, but watching your club in a stadium with no atmosphere is still better than not being able to watch your club at all.

By Craig Rodhouse, FanZone's Leyton Orient blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @craggers92 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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