An open letter to the Olympic Park Legacy Company
Below is the text of a letter sent by LOFT to the Olympic Park Legacy Company, the body tasked with deciding among other things the fate of the Olympic Stadium post-2012:
To: Baroness Ford (Chairman) and Andrew Altman (Chief Executive), Olympic Park Legacy Company.
Dear Baroness Ford/Mr Altman,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Leyton Orient Fans' Trust (LOFT), which is a supporters' trust representing supporters of Leyton Orient Football Club. Supporters' Trusts are affiliated to Supporters Direct, the government-funded initiative to promote and encourage greater supporter representation at (among other sports) professional football clubs.
As you are now no doubt aware from recent media coverage and representations from the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) - of which LOFT is an affiliate member - there is a growing wave of dissatisfaction among football supporters at the actions of both West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur in trying to obtain the Olympic Stadium for their use post-Games. Neither club has demonstrated a compelling case as to why they should be given the use of the stadium, and neither club has consulted its supporters on whether such a move is in their best interests. We fully support the FSF's actions in this regard.
Among LOFT's aims is the continued well-being in east London of Leyton Orient FC, London's second oldest League club and the oldest in east London, which has been able to survive for 130 years despite being in the shadow of larger neighbours. One of the reasons we have survived is that those larger neighbours have not been right on the club's doorstep, nor have they actively targetted the potential market for future Orient supporters by heavily subsidising tickets to schoolchildren local to Leyton. If either Spurs or West Ham are allowed to move into the Olympic Stadium, both of these become a distinct reality.
The legacy of the Olympic Games in east London was not meant to be making rich Premier League clubs even richer. Neither West Ham nor Tottenham Hotspur need the Olympic Stadium to survive, they are both looking to increase their income even more in an attempt to compete with the super-rich clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea. Both clubs have been arguing over the stadium like two animals over a piece of meat. This is not what the Olympic ideal was meant to be about, particularly when the club they are indirectly threatening is such a unique part of London sporting life and a unique part of the tapestry of English football; there is, after all, only one Orient in a sea of Citys, Uniteds and Towns.
The OPLC needs to take into account that the Premier League's and Football League's rules specifically prohibit a member club moving into the immediate vicinty of another member club, and allowing Spurs or West Ham to move to the Olympic Stadium would breach that rule.
In short, LOFT therefore supports the original plan for the future use of the Olympic Stadium; a community asset for east London sports (and particularly athletics) that don't have the millions that Premier League football has. Football neither needs nor deserves public money for the selfish aims of two big clubs.
Please note that the contents of this letter have been published on our website.
Leyton Orient Fans' Trust