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Jul 19, 2012

Orient chief wants Olympic groundshare

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has told ESPN that he wants the League One club to share the Olympic Stadium with West Ham after this summer's Games in London.

• Hearn angry at bidding process

Hearn has previously spoken out against the Hammers' attempts to move into the ground in Stratford as he believes it would lead to the demise of Orient, whose main fanbase and Matchroom Stadium are located close by.

However, the sports promoter is now ready to accept a compromise - suggesting that Orient could be joint-tenants with West Ham.

Ground sharing is rare in English football with Fulham the last top-flight club to do so when they moved into QPR's Loftus Road while Craven Cottage was redeveloped between 2002 and 2004.

Hearn believes, though, that AC Milan and Inter Milan at the San Siro, and Roma and Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico, provide examples of it working successfully.

"We have submitted plans for us to take occupancy of the Olympic Stadium and work our fixtures around any other tenants, and I would share the stadium with West Ham in a heartbeat," Hearn told ESPN.

"My Martin Luther King moment is that I, too, have a dream, and rather than West Ham put us out of business it is to let us have the Olympic Stadium. The real legacy, the real intention of a legacy is to allow the east end clubs to prosper.

"If AC Milan and Inter Milan can share the San Siro, I cannot see the problem of ground sharing in this country. Our plan is to have a football friendly, vibrant stadium. The legacy for this stadium is better suited to that idea, surely?

"If they give it to West Ham alone, it would put us out of business. If we can have the stadium, it can help us invest in the team and aim to become a Championship side

"We are the Cinderella club of the east end, but it is time for us to go to the ball."

It has also been claimed that Leyton Orient were preparing to be a part of a bid from Formula One, who are reportedly considering holding a Grand Prix around the Olympic Park.

However, Hearn dismissed the idea, adding: "I am sure [F1 chief executive] Bernie [Ecclestone] has a clever scheme but F1 cars whizzing around and inside the stadium, I don't think so. Cars going through the Olympic Park, again I doubt it."

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