Hearn claims Mayor has offered Spurs 'bung' in stadium dispute

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur and the Mayor of London remain confident of settling their differences over the club's future whereabouts, an outcome which would lead to the club abandoning next month's High Court appeal against the decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United. But the judicial review still looks likely to go ahead as Leyton Orient, Tottenham's partners in a legal objection to West Ham winning the tenancy of what will become a 60,000-seat arena in Stratford, have no plans to drop their appeal.

The High Court is due to begin the judicial review – which revolves around whether a loan from Newham Council to West Ham to help fund their takeover of the stadium constitutes state aid – on 18 October and Barry Hearn, Orient's colourful chairman, yesterday maintained that his club were continuing with their action, while claiming that Boris Johnson's offer to Tottenham was "a bung."

Representatives from Johnson's office and Haringey Council have met over the last two days with Spurs, who are under greater pressure to remain in the area in the wake of last month's riots, having been offered £17m towards their Northumberland Park project, which would see the redevelopment of an area around White Hart Lane.

"Boris has made his move to try and placate Tottenham and if I'm being cynical, it looks like a bung just to get him out of a court case. I come from the real world and I can recognise a bung when I see it," Hearn told Talksport yesterday. "We're in the High Court in mid-October against Newham Borough Council and against the OPLC [Olympic Park Legacy Committee] as well, to claim state subsidy that's affecting a resident business."

Hearn believes that Orient would be forced out of business if West Ham move into the Olympic stadium, which is visible from the club's Brisbane Road ground. Hearn has expressed an interest in moving Orient to the nearby Olympic hockey stadium post-Games.

Tottenham are also faced with the likelihood that even were they to win the review and the bidding process started again, a requirement to keep the track in the stadium – something Tottenham are opposed to – would be one of the criteria.

Johnson and Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, are keen to resolve the problem as soon as possible so it does not impact on London's bid to hold the 2017 athletics World Championships.

Yesterday David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, said: "It's decision time. The community in which the club belongs hangs in the balance."

Comments