Olympic Legacy Saga
Not Over

West Ham United may be readying to move into Olympic Stadium at the beginning of the 2016-2017 soccer season, but a group of Lords questions whether the UK is making the best of the London venue.

Although The Hammers had to win through two bidding processes and survive legal challenges from runners-up such as Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient, the House of Lords Committee on Games Legacy reckons the £429 million stadium is “national asset that should be used to the full.”

A year ago, UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said he expected the stadium to reopen in 2014 and branded the delay to 2015 or 2016 “a farce,” but the Lords legacy committee is suggesting West Ham and Orient share the venue.

“We urge those concerned to think further on how the two most local football clubs might work together, including whether any difficulties can be ameliorated through wider community use of the stadium, which may include its occasional use by Leyton Orient FC if appropriate financial arrangement can be agreed,” said Lord Harris, chairman of the Lords committee.

He also said the clubs were acting “like children squabbling over who goes down the slide first as far as the stadium is concerned.”

His committee is now recommending the government appoint a minister with overall responsibility for producing legacy benefits that, it warns, “are in danger of faltering.”

In its report, titled Keeping The Flame Alive, the committee said: “Our feeling is that the stadium is a national asset. … At the moment our concern is that there are too many closed minds about this.”

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn welcomed the report and said his club, West Ham and the London Legacy Development Corporation should sit down and work things out “once and for all.”

West Ham doesn’t appear keen on the idea. “Looking forward, our focus is solely on creating a stunning new home for the club and its supporters in 2016, alongside a long-term legacy for the community of east London,” a club spokesman told Sky News.

“What goes on with other interested parties is very much a matter for Leyton Orient and the LLDC and not West Ham United.”