For Confused Leyton Orient Supporters
The photograph above is of Brisbane Road, your home since 1937, the photograph below is of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, a mile or so to the south west. I'm showing both stadia just in case there is any confusion among 'O's' fans resulting from comments made by the club's chairman Barry Hearn in May 2009 and February 2011. In May 2009 he said that the club may have to consider moving to either Harlow or Basildon because that was where the club's core support was based, in February 2011 he said that the club may seek a judicial review after West Ham were chosen as the preferred bidders for the Olympic Stadium because it would impact on Leyton Orient's core support.
The rumours have been flying about for years regarding the future of Brisbane Road and its possible sale for housing development resulting in the clubs moving to Harlow. It's been discussed in the football media and on the supporters message boards, nobody has ever considered that having West Ham at Upton Park has affected the 'core support' but suddenly every young person in East London will want to go to the shiny new ground that has suddenly appeared. I do have sympathy with the club if they sincerely believe that they will lose future generations to the bigger club, but hasn't that always been the way? After all a certain David Beckham was born at Whipps Cross Hospital, the same distance from Brisbane Road as the new stadium, and whilst he may have had trials for the club his destiny lay some way away.
The whole attitude of Leyton Orient and their chairman stinks of hypocrisy. Last year they released a statement saying:
"The impact on Leyton Orient will be huge. The prospect of excess capacity leading to discounted tickets and the broader appeal to floating fans of a more high-profile club threatens to swamp us. It is tragic to think that the true legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games could be the death of one of football's most established community clubs."
But surely floating fans don't have any connection with any club, hence the term floating? And after all isn't human nature going to kick in and say, "I've got a choice between watching West Ham v Sunderland or Leyton Orient v Huddersfield, you know what I think I might go and see West Ham."
To sceptical supporters, this statement smacked of manoeuvring for an exit route from Leyton, an area that, like Upton Park and Tottenham, is characterised by pockets of poverty and a transient population, the stamp of outer-inner London. Orient's community scheme has an enviable reputation, but a lot of locals remain unenticed by League One football at £20 a throw. and of course there is the small matter that if Orient did move from E10 to the wilds of Essex they'd simply be moving into areas where the majority of supporters follow the Hammers, Spuds or even Arsenal.
A lot of West Ham supporters remain sceptical of the move to Stratford but the hypocrisy and crocodile tears of Barry Hearn tend to make me think it could be the best thing that's ever happened to the area, after all Orient rarely get more than 6,000 for their home games that is their core support, whether it comes from Forest Gate or Fairlop, they were never going to attract 20,000 fans were they?