February 13, 2011
The big bun fight between West Ham and Tottenham came to an end this week with the news that West Ham would be named as the preferred club to take over after 2012. Of course, this is jolly good news for West Ham, who’ll surely have one of the nicest stadiums in The Championship. Personally, I’m a bit off with the idea of our Olympic legacy being left in the hands of a pair of pornographers, but that’s just me.
What’s really sticking in my craw here is that West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium will surely put out of business one of London’s oldest pro football clubs, Leyton Orient.
Leyton Orient are the closest club to the new stadium, geographically speaking, the introduction of a Premiership team into what would be Orient’s usual catchment area (to use a school term) would see Orient fold within a decade as they struggle to attract new fans.
There have been rumblings regarding compensation being paid out to Orient, but nothing has been confirmed. If compensation were to be paid out to Orient, how much would suffice? A one off payment of £15 – £20 million has been mooted, but is that sufficient? It’d get them through the short to medium term for sure, but what next? Orient can’t compete with West Ham when it comes to people picking who they’ll support. They’ve no glorious history to bank on, no star players to speak off and no celebrity fans (unless you count Bob Mills).
I hate to sound like Johnny Miserable, but I genuinely fear for the future of Leyton Orient. The Olympic Park Legacy Committee has ensured that we won’t end up like Montreal-esque “White Elephant”. But in doing so, they could well have dealt a “Hammer’s”* blow to one of our oldest football clubs.
*Do you see what I did there?