Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn had expressed his intention to change the club’s name to ‘London Orient’ if they are named as tenants at the Olympic Stadium. The decision over the future of the stadium is set to be made in the next couple of weeks by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Barry Hearn’s latest strategy appears to involve a possible ground share with West Ham United. He outlined his thoughts when speaking to the Daily Telegraph:
“West Ham might not like it but a ground share with Orient makes a lot of sense to the legacy company and for the Park,”
“You would have the commercial Premier League entity coupled with the local community club serving the community. To enhance the point I am going to make Leyton Orient as attractive as possible as a bidder.
“Now our television rights are around £750,000, not £65 million, so commercially we are not as attractive, but we can offer a huge amount as a community club.
“We are going to change the name of the club to London Orient. We are going to give free season tickets to under-18s in London, students and members of the Armed Forces, and free family season tickets to new residents of the Olympic Park housing.
“We are going to try to go from 5,000 capacity to 30,000 by giving things back to the community. We are not interested in making money. It’s very handy but we have only managed it once in the last 19 years.
“We are saying to the LLDC they can put someone on the board to make sure that we fulfil our legacy commitments. We are saying that if we are lucky enough to go up the divisions we will pay more rent, and we are also saying that any profits from the sale of Brisbane Road will be directly invested into the squad to give us the chance to succeed.
“Some of the hardcore fans will be grumbling [about changing the name] but we have got to do something dramatic. That begins with the name change and it begins with opening our arms to a whole new audience.”
“They are owned by two of the richest men in the country so why should the taxpayer effectively service their debt after years of mismanagement by previous owners?,”
“The stadium needs more than one football club so it is open and attracting people every weekend.”
“As we have said all along the stadium was badly designed and it does not work for football without seats on the track. Temporary seats will make the stadium look like a mishmash. We can get it right but it will cost money,”
“It is a bitter pill to swallow, but I think Boris will try and do it properly.”
It would not be the first time that Orient have changed their name, in their 131 year history. The club was established in 1881 by members of the Glyn Cricket Club but that was changed to Eagle Cricket Club in 1886 and then in 1888 to Orient Football Club. The name was changed again ten years later to ‘Clapton Orient’. The move to Leyton in 1937 led to ‘Leyton’ replacing ‘Clapton’, but that prefix was dropped in 1966 with the team becoming known simply as ‘Orient’. ‘Leyton’ was then reintroduced in the name in 1987.
A full statement can be found on the Official Site: