The Barry Hearn Interview Part 5 ‘What Harm can it do?”

I asked Barry Hearn why he wants to ground share with West Ham United?

BH ”What do I really want? Despite what people think I do not want compensation just to throw in the black hole called football. What I want is ground share, so I am going flat out for ground share!”

BH ”The European argument with ground share is removed partially anyway because it’s a broader sponsorship rather than an individual to a commercial enterprise”

I asked Barry didn’t you say you would give up your challenge if you lost the Judicial review?

BH “No, No, the papers said that! If I lose the judicial review I would give up on the bidding process, that’s what I have given up. I have given up opposing the bidding process. I have accepted that West Ham are the anchor tenants in the Olympic Stadium because I have lost and I know when I have lost”

BH “On the bidding process we all signed up to the principle of ground sharing. Karren Brady said in the House of Lords we all agreed to it!”

BH “The truth came out at the last judicial review when the lawyers said, the West Ham lawyers said, we don’t want to ground share because it will affect our brand value. They were their exact words, the judge said this is not about brand value, we still lost but it was the first time someone from West ham said we don’t want to ground share”

BH ”What we are saying is really is what harm does it do for us to share the Stadium? and to give us a chance on our doorstep to live our dreams”

I told Barry in personal view it could only be the spiritual home for one football club.

BH “It happens all over Europe, 17 clubs around Europe ground share”

Barry challenged me asking

BH “West Ham occupancy will be harmful to us, Do you accept that? With 10,000 free tickets going out?”

I replied no I didn’t see that, in my view it is slightly disrespectful to Leyton Orient fans to suggest they would change their football club like they would their tooth paste. Football is in the blood.

BH “Your totally wrong on this, our fan base is 6 to 7% local, 93% drive in, What I am saying is football has changed now. It is not local residents so much, its people returning to their roots. Your position will now change because you are going to be a massive club in this iconic stadium. Every year I analyse what happens to my small number of season ticket holders. Every year we lose about 400 sometimes 500 season ticket holders, natural wastage/death, moving out of the area, losing interest. There are the three categories. The report says fundamentally with the value of the Premier league brand, every year in the past we have replaced those with, almost to the number with local people which decide to start going to Leyton Orient. The report says and I believe them. The vast majority if not all of those will now be enticed to go to West ham with cheaper tickets, better football and certainly iconic building rather than join their local club and we will be mathematically on the slippery slope down the leagues as we operate our 60% rule as our income will naturally fall. I find it very difficult to disagree with that”

SW ”But I do, why do I support West Ham? Why would I not support a more successful club?”

BH ”Because of your birth right, the new fans don’t come from birth right”

SW “Don’t they? They come from families. Did my son have a choice what team he supported?”

BH Your in a time warp! This is a different world we live in now. Your’e getting occasional visitors, you’re getting new season ticket holders from people that don’t necessarily have an association because people die, people move away. Your West ham through and through but not everyone shows your depth of passion. People move off and they go somewhere else”

BH “We won’t lose a hard core fan I know that, I am never saying that but the numbers we are dealing with as so small. To lose 300 fans per year by not being replaced because there is a better, more exciting, cheaper, much more exciting version just across the road will have a negative effect on us”

I said Leyton orient fans told me they have not been consulted on ground sharing the Olympic Stadium

BH “Listen, Listen I am going spend a lot of time speaking to them aren’t I? To be honest with you NOT! At the end of the day I own the club, I run the club, I will listen to them, I will sit down, I will listen to their feelings but when you say, what is consultation? So we get everybody together in a room, we discuss it, we let them to go away and talk to their membership and to come back to us. Sometimes they do sometimes they don’t! but what is consultation?”

BH “I will listen to you and talk to you but that doesn’t mean I going to do what you want and I reserve that right as the owner”

You want to share the Olympic Stadium but your average gate al Leyton Orient is around 5,500 when your current ground capacity is 9,271. Why aren’t you filling Brisbane Road now and how would you fill the Olympic Stadium?

BH “Two answers to that, firstly what the f**k has it got to do with you?, I am tenant, I am not interested in whether you fill it or not, that’s your job, your West Ham, you shouldn’t be interested in me, what the f**k has it got to do with you if I have one person in it, I am paying my rent f**k off! That’s one answer! Right! The second answer, I believe we can get 9,000 Leyton orient fans in the lower tier if we are in the Championship. I think that is realistic. I also believe that we will get , because I in the the iconic status of the stadium a minimum of 3 to 4000 floating people because this is going to a focal point of the whole of the East end, I also believe I can go out certainly give away like West ham enough to fill the lower tier, I think I can get to 18,000 if I am in the Championship! No More! I think I will do well to get to 18,000 it may not happen quickly!”

You once said if you got a bung you would stop your challenge.

BH “That was a great line, that was on the back of Levy getting a bung and I said to Boris. no-one gives me a bung and I am always up for a bung, hey do you know what I am up for a bung!”

BH “The only person that I would look for compensation is the Premier league for breaking in my view their own rules and that is something we will decide, at the moment the action is stayed and we can re-open that action at any time against the Premier League, that would be a compensation claim”

Since I did this interview Barry Hearn met with Denis Hone from the LLDC on the 11th December. We are waiting to hear the outcome of that meeting.

The 1 hour and 20 minute interview can be heard in full on Moore Than Just A Podcast Episode 15 which can be downloaded or listened to at


Remembering the 1923 FA Cup Final

Another part of my “remembering” series and I have to own up as to not having been around for this game! The 1923 FA Cup Final is another part of football history for West Ham. It was the first final ever to be played at Wembley Stadium and we are in the history books as being the first team to lose a Cup Final there. Our opponents on the day were Bolton Wanderers and they beat us by two goals to nil. However, the football match was, in comparison, a small part of what happened on this historic day. The match has been for years remembered as the “White Horse” final.

The White Horse Cup Final was to go down as one of the most extraordinary events in sporting history. The then new Wembley, officially known as The Empire Stadium, was completed just 4 days prior to the 1923 Cup Final and was considered to be the Worlds greatest sporting arena. The capacity was believed to be 127,000 and it was considered ample as the previous year’s final had attracted a crowd of just 53,000. However, the organisers had not taken into account the lure of the new National Stadium and before you could say “make it all ticket”, nearly half a million people were converging on the ground.

By 1.45pm the gates were closed as the capacity limit had been reached. However, a quarter of a million more people were swelling outside the stadium in a tide that was not going to go away. The locked out crowd began breaking down gates and scaling the walls to get in as the surge to get in became overwhelming. Before long an estimated additional 100,000 fans had made it into the ground and the groundswell had seen spectators spill from the terraces and onto the pitch . We will never know how many people were crammed into the stadium that day, estimates range from 240,000 to 300,000, but it will go down as “unofficially” the highest non racing sports attendance in World sport.

At 2.45pm after the King had overseen the singing of the National anthem, it was unclear if a game could be played at all? The pitch was completely full of spectators and it seemed impossible to see how the chaos could be rectified. Then along came the hero’s of the day – a police constable named George Scorey and his white horse “Billy”. He carefully picked his way to the centre of the pitch and then started to circle, edging the crowd back bit by bit. The horse nudging here, nudging there, as he continued to enlarge the territory which was the green blades of grass of the playing field. George persuaded the front ranks of spectators to link arms and push backwards as the horse kept manoeuvring the crowd back until after 45 minutes the crowd had been retreated all the way back to the edge of the pitch. It was then realised that any more retreating was impossible.

The game eventually started which often saw players, unable to stop themselves near the touch lines, hurtling into the crowd and struggling to get back onto the pitch amidst the mass of supporters. At half time both teams had to stay on the field and several times in the second half play was stopped as the crowd again spilled onto the playing area. Goals from David Jack and Jack Smith ensured a 2-0 win to Bolton who were one of the strongest teams of that era. In honour of Billy the white horse, the footbridge outside the new Wembley was named the “White Horse Bridge”.

Talking Point

'If he wasn't our manager he is exactly the type of manager you would be bringing in'

David Sullivan speaking to BBC Football Focus gave his full backing to Sam Allardyce before yesterday’s no score draw.

He was asked whether Sam Allardyce will still be the manager in January?

DS “Absolutely!”

BBC “Does it matter about results?”

DS “It does matter about results but really we review a manager at the end of a season.If you asked me what kind of season Sam has had up to now, I would say ‘disappointing’. But let’s judge him at the end of the season. I think the Newcastle manager would have been sacked by most fans after a month of the season but now he is flavour of the month.”

DS “I am deeply concerned. Anybody who looks at where we are in the table and is not concerned are kidding themselves.”
“I really believe Sam is the man for the job. If he wasn’t our manager he is exactly the type of manager you would be bringing in to be the manager. Where do you get someone better than Sam to do the job that is now necessary?”

Earlier this week David Gold at the Season Ticket Holders forum said “We have to rely on Sam and the players. We have to stick together.”

However, Big Sam accepts it will be “impossible” not to sack him if results at West Ham do not improve quickly. Sam said "They cannot be patient forever if I continue to lose football matches. It’s impossible for them to ride the pressure that will come upon them, impossible not to succumb to that pressure like many other owners have done.

“When you look at their history, they have always shown a level of patience to overcome difficult situations and I hope that will be the same. But I know that in the end it is about getting results.

“Everybody will speculate about my future now because I am in the same position as all the other clubs who have got rid of their managers. It is perceived that I am the next one in the line. But it is just about picking up a few points.”

“The owners are going to stick with me or they are not. It is entirely up to them and how they see me in the job and how they see the situation at the moment”

David Sullivan on BBC Football Focus

Talking Point

Everything BS brings to the Beautiful Game

AFTER yet another scintillating display at The Academy today, this time against mighty Sunderland, I thought it was time I paid BS the full respect he deserves. On reflection, I may have been a tad harsh on him in the past, as many have been quick to point out.

After all, he has enjoyed the considerable backing of many thousands of Hammers supporters for the best part of three years – and, surely, they can’t have all been wrong. It must be me who has been missing the point, failing to appreciate his genius.

So, without the statistical input of any of the eight (yes, EIGHT) full-time data analysts the club now employs to filter a plethora of crucial information to our esteemed coach, I’m now going to analyse in minute detail his immense contribution to West Ham United (and, indeed, football as a whole), in terms of tactical acumen and purveyor of high entertainment . . .

(The End)

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