West Ham United is currently in a lamentable era as the club continues to underachieve spectacularly. Since the departure of manager Harry Redknapp in 2001, the Hammers have bounced between the top two divisions of English football on multiple occasions and even when they’ve been in the Premier League, they have seemingly been permanently flirting with relegation.
Ownership changes, financial problems and a general malaise have overtaken the club in the last ten years. But West Ham United remains a classic English institution where the Spirit of 66 was born and thrives even today. With that in mind, the club was given control of London’s Olympic Stadium beginning in 2016, despite a lucrative bid from Tottenham Hotspur — a bigger club but one that would have to relocate geographically to take over the facility.
Upton Park, the current home of West Ham United, however is further from Olympic Stadium than Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road facility. The talk in 2010 and 2011 that Leyton Orient could ground-share or even control the Olympic Stadium was laughed at by most because the club is too small to seriously contemplate control over the facility. Eccentric Orient owner Barry Hearn’s public comments about the stadium seemed to push certain elements of support even further into the Hammers camp. Hearn contended that West Ham was moving into his club’s natural home territory. While many laughed this off, in reality a case can be clearly made in Hearn’s defense.
Still the idea of a smaller club preventing a bigger club from moving to a new ground in an area as saturated with English football as London was deemed laughable by most.
Next season however, a distinct possibility remains that both West Ham United and Leyton Orient could be playing in the same division. At this moment in time the Hammers sit in the Premier League relegation zone while Orient sits in second place in League 1, a position that would see them automatically promoted to the Championship if they maintain it.
Financial issues continue to plague West Ham United. And the Olympic Stadium move in two seasons is being couched as a one-size-fits-all solution to the club’s money problems. But should Leyton Orient and West Ham United actually be on a level plane from a football standpoint when 2016 roles around, questions will be asked and perhaps answered to Barry Hearn’s satisfaction.
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