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The Dangers of the Olympic Legacy

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When London won the Olympics, I picked up my drum and started banging on about what a great thing it was. There would be the chance to watch the most compelling event in sport in my back yard and the east end would finally have the chance to catch up with the rest of London through the regeneration programme. It was win-win for the local community.

It's now just a year until the Olympics and I feel rather stupid for having ever been so optimistic. I was not, of course, allocated any tickets, despite having to set aside nearly four grand on the off chance I won all of the seats for which I'd applied. Like the rest of London, I will watch it on TV, unable to leave my flat in any case as the city will be deadlocked, while Sepp Blatter sails past in his specially-reserved traffic lane.

But I could deal with all this if I felt that the east end would benefit. However, the saga surrounding the Olympic Stadium indicates that the interests of the local community are not being put first.

West Ham beat off Tottenham in the fight to take over once the javelins and pole vaults are packed away next summer, although the legal wrangles surrounding the crown jewel of the venues remain. However, I found both bids rather distasteful. Spurs are not based in the area and most of the club's fans are totally opposed to the move, which would, in any case, not see any athletics provision on the site. The idea of a Stratford Hotspurs is something that nobody - even the club's owners who are pushing the move - could really countenance. Meanwhile, West Ham want to keep the running track, which will ruin the view and the atmosphere at its matches, while the bid is contingent on a huge loan from the local council, despite the cuts taking place elsewhere in the public sector.

Another problem comes in the shape of my own football club, Leyton Orient, everyone's second team (or perhaps everyone's joke team, I wouldn't like to guess), which stands closest to the Olympic stadium of any professional football club and which has the most to lose from West Ham moving in. Given that there will be a capacity of 60,000 - almost double West Ham's average crowd last season - it seems likely that the only way that the Hammers will fill the ground will be through giving away cheap tickets (especially if they continue to play in the Championship). That leaves Orient unable to compete, and its already small crowds will diminish further, eventually pushing one of the oldest clubs in the league - and one with a fine record of helping the local community - out of business.

Everyone seems to have dismissed the idea that the stadium could just be used for athletics- as it was always meant to be, and as was the basis for London being awarded the games. But when Spurs were talking about becoming the tenant, they had to make it clear that Crystal Palace would be upgraded into a world class athletics facility. If Crystal Palace could survive essentially on athletics alone, then why couldn't an Olympic stadium with a reduced capacity of 25,000 do the same?

In looking at the legacy, all of those making the decisions seemed unable to see the wood for the trees. Boris Johnson, Seb Coe and others need to reconsider. We need not give in to the thrall of the Premier League and of football and all its glories. The Olympics were meant to make things better for the east end, not worse and there was no need to choose the bid from either West Ham or Spurs, as both were flawed. The simple answer was the right one.

Every fortnight during the past few football seasons, as I have made my way from Leyton tube down to Orient's ground in Brisbane Road, I have seen the Olympic park come together bit by bit. What a shame it would be if the park's only real legacy were to be to kill off one of the best-loved community clubs in the country; that surely is not in the Olympic spirit. So if the legal challenge to West Ham's tenancy were to succeed, I'd hope that the straightforward and right decision will then be made instead.