I have very fond memories of Brisbane Road and Eton Manor Cricket club, having watched my first football match at Leyton Orient FC and played cricket at the Manor during many long summer evenings well before it become part of the 2012 Olympic site.
These memories were stirred during yesterday’s plenary meeting at the London Assembly when my colleague Jennette Arnold (Assembly Member for North East – Hackney, Islington & Waltham Forest) raised the issue of Leyton Orient FC moving into the Olympic Hockey Stadium. This, so soon after West Ham FC’s successful bid for the Olympic Stadium, despite Leyton Orient’s close proximity to the Olympic site (though l don’t think they made a bid).
The Chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, Baroness Ford responded by asking: ” why would you put two football stadia in the Olympic Park ….. ” implying that it was neither feasible or desirable.
Due to procedural time limits, l was not able to respond at the time, however, she is plainly wrong. Two football clubs can share a site and even the stadium. Take Italy for example, in Rome, the Stadio Olimpico (a legacy of the 1960 Olympics in Rome) is shared by two huge clubs, Roma and Lazio, both of which can boast a fanatical fan base. The rivalry which exists between the two clubs is much more intense then any that would ever exist between West Ham and Leyton Orient! Another example of ground sharing is in Milan, where there are two of the biggest clubs in Europe, AC Milan and Inter Milan sharing the San Siro Stadium.
I’ve said this before and will say it again. If the huge Italian clubs with massive fan bases are able to share their grounds, why then, is this not an option for our own Olympic site or at least the stadium?