Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hearn Is Striving to Be Home Alone

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hearn Is Striving to Be Home Alone

Article excerpt


GIVEN the well-documented problems of Fulham, Brentford and Wimbledon, groundsharing could represent the future of football in London, but Leyton Orient are hopeful of bucking the trend.

With West Ham on their doorstep, the Third Division club have long been battling the odds and their latest plan could see them hit the jackpot.

Chairman Barry Hearn this week unveiled radical proposals for a u10 million redevelopment of Brisbane Road, to be paid for by building flats on all four corners of the ground. If it goes ahead the club would become the only residential complex in English football.

Hearn has agreed to sell land on all four corners of the ground to Bellway Estates for more than u8m, which will go towards a redevelopment of the North Terrace and West Stand. The Football Foundation have already pledged a u1m grant towards the all-seater project, with any shortfall in the u10m cost coming from Hearn's own pockets.

The plans will go before Waltham Forest Council planning committee in April and Hearn has no doubts as to the consequences of any delay. Time is of the essence.

Hearn told Standard Sport: "These are great plans and I'm confident people will get behind them, but we have to act now. If we delay then it won't happen. We have to start building by September.

"Every month we delay, the costs rise by u100,000 and by next year it will be unaffordable. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to safeguard the future of Leyton Orient. It's only a small window and we have to jump through it. If we don't start building soon then next season could be our last at Brisbane Road. We may have to move out in 12 months."

Brisbane Road, Orient's home since 1935, is now beyond shabby. The West Stand's capacity was recently cut by 1,500 for safety reasons and still faces closure in two years, while the North Terrace suffers from subsidence.

The alternative is a modern stadium that seats 9,000, with scope to increase the capacity to more than 10,000 by adding extra tiers of seating.

The new Brisbane Road would also include corporate facilities, business opportunities and possibly a Health Care Trust, all completed within 18 months of the September start date. …

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