23 March 2013

If you tolerate this, then your club could be next

In the wake of the LLDC's decision to award the Olympic Stadium to Leyton Orient's 'noisy neighbours' West Ham, guest blogger Andy Brown looks at what the legacy of London 2012 really means for the people of East London, and its oldest football club...

The Olympic Stadium
So the inevitable has finally happened. The LLDC has finally rubber-stamped a decision to award the people’s Olympic Stadium to wealthy Premier League West Ham United in a desperate attempt by the powers-that-be to ensure that their legacy does not become a white elephant.

All this despite the lack of a proper bidding process overshadowed in 2011 by the fact that an OPLC director was paid £20,000 while moonlighting as a consultant for West Ham, which raised major issues about the then OPLC’s processes and the decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham.

Under the deal announced yesterday, West Ham will pay only £15m for a 99-year lease on a stadium whose conversion costs will be £150m to £190m and where the overall cost could top £630m. The fundamentals of the deal are clear: West Ham are getting a stadium costing more than £600m for just £15m and a small amount of around £2m in annual rent.

That’s a pretty good deal for West Ham’s owners (worth in excess of £800m in combined wealth between Sullivan, Gold and Brady), considering it’s less than an Andy Carroll transfer fee.

Not only this, but the taxpayer is picking up the additional tab too: another £25m will need to be found by taxpayers to pay for a wealthy Premier League club to have a freebie from the state. This is in addition to Newham council’s £40m “loan”, from the poorest borough in the country that has faced annual double-digit spending cuts but is still able to borrow from the treasury at preferential rates. How could it possibly not impact services in the borough?

This is a club that has yet to finish paying Sheffield United the £18.1m it owes them over the Tevez saga and where there has been no mention of where the funds from Upton Park will end up. Back with the taxpayer one would assume. Add to this the fact that West Ham could potentially make over £1.6m on a match day against £2m annual rent and it looks like a rather one-way deal for West Ham.

The bidding process was fair and proper
And it’s here that we move onto another football club, the longest established club in the East End. My pride and joy, like many others, that has been around longer than West Ham. As the second oldest club in London, this decision threatens Leyton Orient’s future existence.

It seems that with Barry Hearn’s legal wrangling, many are unable to read between the lines. Here’s the truth:

• Orient didn’t want the stadium – we couldn’t fill it (neither could West Ham) and having an athletic track makes the idea of watching football farcical. Barry Hearn’s legal manoeuvring really centres on an unfair bidding process that would directly impact the club’s future. At best it is hoped there would be some sort of compensation or plan from the fallout, but just like the poor residents of Newham, Orient has a raw deal.

• Empty seats mean discounted, cheap or free tickets, for a club higher up the football pyramid less than a long goal kick from Brisbane Road.

• It will have a detrimental impact on Orient’s future fanbase, as well as youth schemes for local talent (Leyton Orient Community Sports Program - LOCSP), fundamental to the survival of a League One club.

Orient did not want the Olympic Stadium, but we did not want to be ignored and bypassed in a process that directly impacts our future. The option to have the hockey stadium was refused, sharing with West Ham was refused, and other viable bids were rejected.

Enjoy the view, West Ham fans
Along with taxpayers, Orient has lost out. It may force Orient, the true legacy East London club, to move to Essex in order to survive for the reasons stated. Of course none of this will matter. West Ham has its taxpayer-funded stadium and the LLDC has finally offloaded their embarrassing and overpriced white elephant.

Despite corruption overshadowing the entire process, this is just a microcosm of football and the division of wealth more broadly in Britain. Taking money from the poorest borough and attempting to destroy a community club is all in a days’ work for the LLDC and the Mayor of London.

Today it’s my club, but if you tolerate this, then your club could be next.

Follow Andy on Twitter @OrientMeatPie

27 comments:

  1. Very well said, this whole business has made my blood boil, the treatment of the O's during this entire process has been one of complete contempt, juts ignore this little club and they will go away whislt we wallow in the £ gravy train how dare they think they can steamroller a club with such a rich history !

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  2. The person who has ruined Orient is Hearn who got into bed with a North London team and was happy for a club to move onto his manor,whereas he is complaining about a team who is moving a small diastance WITHIN THE SAME BOROUGH.Speaking as an Arsenal fan it makes total sense for West Ham to be the tenants otherwise we would have another white elephant like the millenium dome.

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  3. The person who has ruined Orient is Hearn who got into bed with a North London team and was happy for a club to move onto his manor,whereas he is complaining about a team who is moving a small diastance WITHIN THE SAME BOROUGH.Speaking as an Arsenal fan it makes total sense for West Ham to be the tenants otherwise we would have another white elephant like the millenium dome.

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    Replies
    1. @pb4u I find your argument staggering. So you find it acceptable that the taxpayer is funding West Ham, run by owners with a combined wealth in excess of £800m? Blaming Hearn is simply garbage-the reason Hearn got involved is because the bidding process was a whitewash not a fair process, irrespective of his changing position & questionable motivation. The LLDC (OPLC) planners who didn't listen to Caborn & co when designing the stadium in 2006 have a lot of blame on their shoulders for the additional £190m. As for West Ham/why not give to an events company or someone who would give the taxpayer some return. Arsenal funded their stadium, West Ham haven't. In an era of austerity this can only be viewed as shocking, irrespective of whether you're an Os fan or simply a taxpayer (especially if you live in Newham)

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    2. Most people in Newham agree with PB4U.The Borough of West Ham joined the Borough of East Ham in 1965 to form Newham. The main Olympic Borough is Newham, and all its life West Ham United has been in this Borough.
      Orient have little more to do with Newham than Tottenham or indeed Glasgow Rangers.
      A bit chunk of the O.S. funding comes from Newham Council to be spent in its Borough, this is what is happening and don't forget this still includes an athletic track(which is already there).
      Hearn has offered nothing to Newham. My guess is Orient will stay put in Leyton, which is in the Borough of Waltham Forest. Maybe Waltham Forest could give Hearn further handouts to build some more flats around Brisbane Road.

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    3. And what have West Ham offered to Newham other than a massive additional £40m burden for share in the stadium that they neither wanted or needed, given that it was there anyway? Looks like money by stealth for West Ham to me, without popular consent. Selling the stadium to an events company or similar would have yielded a far more profitable return for the taxpayer. This stadium is a bottomless pit, managed and planned by idiots.

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  4. The more I read about this, the more I see the numbers, the more my jaw drops.
    I live in East Ham.
    The current location of WHU has long been a thorn in the side of local residents trying to go about their normal business on a Saturday with Barking Road often gridlocked. Sometimes I’ve just had to go back home and sit it out. No amount of fiddling with CPZ’s seems to change this.
    But.....BUT......I cannot believe how, not long after the Millenium Dome, yet again a load of our money has been spent on a showpiece project without any real thought about the future life of the structure – if such short-sighted planning doesn’t constitute crap design I don’t know what does. The Millenium Dome eventually found it’s logical function as O2 and indeed the OS could have found similar use (goodness knows Wembley Arena needs retiring as a music venue).
    But the powers that be are so frightened of being stuck with it that they, and we the taxpayers, oh and we AGAIN the Newham Council Tax payer have virtually gifted it to WHU. A high price to pay to unclog a road.
    The business impact of landing on Orient’s doorstep has, as far as I can see been ignored as if it doesn’t exist. All credit to Barry for the fuss he has kicked up, Equally thank goodness we are not “London Orient” but without his appetite for a fight and skill at maintaining a media presence WHU would have probably had even better gift-wrapping.
    It won’t matter to the existing fans – they, we have already made a choice where to go on a Saturday and proximity won’t change that but it’s competing with the glamour show up the road for new blood that’ll be tough.
    We KNOW we are different – selling that difference to future fans will be tough but sell it we must

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  5. Surely there is a solution:
    West Ham United relocate to the Olympic Stadium. As WHU are paying just 15m, then maybe they can invest some of their savings into two local clubs.

    Leyton Orient and Clapton FC merge and move into WHU. It's a tried and tested formula that has worked in the past.

    Both clubs have a rich East London fan base, under threat and have the potential to grow.

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  6. you people are deluded, stop being so bitter and twisted, west ham are the only logical tennants of this stadium, the concerts and other activities WILL still go ahead, yes it's a good deal for west ham, but is also a good deal for the people of newham as this will bring much needed revenue into the area, do orient fans honestly want to watch a game in a 50-60,000 seater stadium with 6,000 supporters rattling around in there, stop believing hearns propaganda

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    1. Are you Boris Johnson??

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    2. Also, I can only assume you didn't read it, otherwise you wouldn't still be banging the drum about Orient in the Olympic Stadium. Why do you along with so many others find it so hard to read between the lines?

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  7. pb4u - If you are an Arsenal fan you are the only one who thinks like you do. Even taking Orient out of the equation, look at what's happened. Every Arsenal fan I know finds it ridiculous. You had to pay the best part of £500 million for a new stadium when you wanted one, and then not win anything for 8 years off the back of having to fund it, and yet you think it's fair that West Ham get essentially gifted a stadium that will create greater revenue for them and therefore accelerate their chances of winning something?! Words fail me.

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  9. So knocking down the stadium and sending East London kids over to South London for athletics whilst a North London club builds a purpose built stadium is best for the local community ??

    Sounds like a selfish LOFC fan to me...who doesn't give a toss about anything other than his teams survival. The same team who struggles to attract 3500 fans and have spent more money on lawyers than players.

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  10. To answer the west ham fan, no Orient fans do not want to sit and watch a game with 6000 fans rattling around, BUT we do not expect to be totally ignored and forced out of business!

    If its such a good deal for west ham amd your owners are so desperate to move right next door to us,for their own personal greed, then let THEM pay for us to have a new ground, from the millions they are saving from their so called ground swap

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  11. PottersBarWhite24 March 2013 at 11:32

    We (Spurs) have to accept this as one almighty cock up by our board of directors which will come back to haunt us in the future. West Ham were going to buy the Olympic Stadium which would have put them in mountains of debt and their fans behind a running track - a situation that may have killed the club. We raised a legal objection and the stadium owners decided to rent the stadium to West Ham. West Ham will now not be in debt and their fans will now get seating over the running track. There is no doubt that they will join the elite clubs within a few years of moving to Stratford.

    As for Orient, where to start? Hearn has changed his position so much that he is making loyal Orient fans look stupid. First he wanted Spurs to move there (who are bigger than West ham) and I thank the lord that we didn't, then he wanted to move to the Hockey Stadium which is even nearer to the Olympic Stadium thus weakening his argument that West Ham would put Orient out of business, then he wanted 'teaming' with West Ham to share the Olympic Stadium (although I think he may have actually wanted monetary compensation.

    I recently discovered on the O's forum that Hearne had previously mentioned the possibility of moving to Harlow before all this blew up. He clearly wants to move out regardless and is looking for a scapegoat.

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    1. You are absolutely right about Hearn. The issue is that the awarding (or rather rubber-stamping) of West Ham's tenency now gives him the green light to do what he wants with us. The most we were ever going to get was compensation. Now it looks possible that this gives him the validation he needs to move us out of the area, which will lower the running costs, increase the fanbase and see him walk away from us after building on Brisbane Rd with money in his pocket. His attempts to sell have not brought any white knights forward, so I fear for our future.

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  12. How about looking at the facts? Firstly, the reason why West ham have got the stadium... Spurs and Orient raised a legal objection to stop West Ham buying the stadium out of sheer jealousy. The stadium owners then decided to rent it to West Ham as the anchor tenants.

    The stadium is in the old borough of West Ham, its in the borough of Newham. West Ham United have always been in the borough of West Ham/Newham. Orient may be nearer to the Olympic Park boundary but the stadium is miles over the other side of the Olympic Park in Newham.

    The cost of building the stadium cannot be attributed to West Ham. It was built soley for the Olympics. The money has gone.... now what to do with the site? Its no good for anything the way it is so its got to be changed. Why should West Ham pay for those changes when they are renting the stadium and sharing it with other sports?

    Upto £200m will be spent on the conversion and West Ham will be paying £15m plus £2m per year rent but you omitted to add that the stadium owners will get 50% of the stadium naming rights which they wouldn't get if West ham were not tenants. That could be £100m income every ten years just like Arsenal naming rights at The Emirates. The stadium owners will also get 50% of all food and drink sales every time that West Ham play at the stadium.

    West Ham only play approx 20 games at home each year - the stadium will be free for other sports/activities for 340+ days of the year.

    The stadium needs West ham to fund it - its not the way you twist it at all.

    Another intentional mistake that you make concerns the Borogh of Newham. They are not lending £40m to West Ham - they are buying a 35% share of the stadium and will share profits. The profits will repay the £40m loan so the people of Newham are not suffering - they will benefit from the investment. They are not allowed to lend money to West ham as that would be illegal state aid.

    As for Orient... Hearn tried to move the club to harlow or Basildon a few years ago. He has already sold the ground to his own company and that company has already sold of parts of the ground as housing developments. He wanted Spurs to move to the Olympic Stadium as he gets free loan players from Spurs plus income from Spurs reserve games thus earning him money. He then wanted the Hockey Stadium which will be much near to West Ham that they are now - so much for West ham being so near will put us out of business. Now he wants to 'team' with West Ham and share the stadium. He clearly wants money for nothing before he does what he has always intended to do - move Orient out and keep the proceeds.

    West ham are getting a fantastic deal and I am a very happy hammer but the government, Newham, Boris and the taxpayers are also getting as good a deal that is possible out of the mess that Ken livingstone made.

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    1. Plenty of facts in this article. You summed it up in the last line. West Ham are getting a fantastic deal at the expense of the taxpayer and to hell with Orient. As for Hearn, see my response above, we don't trust him, but don't try and make it this is down to Hearn. This was about a government and OPLC/LLDC cock-up and West Ham getting them out of a hole (coupled with brown envelope-dodgy dealings in 2011) and to hell with the taxpayer. And why the hell would Newham want 35% of that white elephant. Noboy asked the takpayers of the borough-just a West Ham fan on the council.
      West Ham never had any intention of buying the stadium or "doing things properly". I'm sure Arsenal fans would have liked the £500m in their pockets for the Emirates on someone else's tab to make their squad stronger. All this externalising is embarrassing from West Ham. YOU cashed in on the taxpayer and are now trying to claim ploughing another £190m in WHICH ONLY BENEFITS WEST HAM, should be paid for by taxpayers. You haven't got a leg to stand on.

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  13. Newham get exclusive access to the stadium for school sports days, also they get an interest return on the loan and they get to work with west ham on devising the best possible regeneration project for the Upton park site (which should also include redevelopment of queens market). As was pointed out before the 500 million is a sunk cost so not really relevant plus london has already been seared the 2017 WCs and is bidding.g for the common.wealth games. It's obvious to have a large capacity athletics stadium in London but it can't du.d itself now that Wembley is football only (you can reconfigure it but it takes months so isn't viable). Given this, you have to have a team partnering to pay for athletics. It's in west ham, west ham are the only large club to.come forward with a plan that includes athletics, orients "teamed" bid included an offer of nothing for rent, and the club would look ridiculous.in the stadium. Fave facts, it's Hearn that's been raping your club for years, and all this just gives him the excuse.to.keep on doing so until the inevitable point that he jettisons you to build on Brisbane road.

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  14. I would like to thank all taxpayers for their contributions towards West Ham's new ground. I wish you good health in the hope that you can all carry on working and continue to contribute towards the stadiums upkeep by the way of tax payments. You are too kind. x

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  15. We're West Ham United, you pay for our ground!

    Cheers for the contribution Orient, don't worry though. You can come and watch us for cheaper. lmao
    oh West Ham we love you!

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