Orient chief against overhaul

Hearn: Don't change the FA Cup

March 3, 2011
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has told ESPNsoccernet that the FA Cup "needs to be protected" from proposed overhauls, and hailed the competition for providing his club with "special memories".

Leyton Orient v Arsenal
GettyImagesLeyton Orient were in dreamland playing two FA Cup ties against the mighty Arsenal

Hearn has enjoyed the limelight the FA Cup offers to the game's minnows more than most after watching his club force a replay with Arsenal, before going on to suffer a 5-0 thrashing in Wednesday's game at the Emirates Stadium.

But despite the disappointing nature of Orient's exit against the Gunners, Hearn is a fervent supporter of the FA Cup and believes it is not necessary to change the competition's format.

"My theory has always been, if it's not broken, don't fix it," Hearn tells ESPNsoccernet. "The FA Cup is not broken, the basic concept is brilliant, it might need some tinkering, but that's all.

"They've talked about ditching replays, but that is taboo, we went to the Emirates for a replay, and that is the most wonderful thing going, you cannot possibly scrap that.

"Seeding... well, it's just ridiculous. It would make it an artificial competition, when the whole ethos is its uniqueness. It's been going for more than 100 years and no-one should be allowed to play around with it. It has a uniqueness that needs to be protected."

While Hearn is not behind some of the aforementioned radical proposals, he does feel that alterations need to be made, namely to give the FA Cup greater prominence.

"If anything, the FA Cup needs to be put back where it belongs, as the final game of the entire season, but that might not be so easy with the power of the Premier League and their fixture congestion. The FA Cup stands alone and should be the final game, just as it used to be.

"I would love the winners to be in the Champions League but that is not going to happen with UEFA unlikely to agree, and the Premier League sure to block it. It's a good idea, but I don't think it will happen.

"The FA Cup gives everyone an opportunity, going way back to hundreds of teams entering in the qualifying rounds; it is a special competition that provides special memories, everyone dreams of what we had, a momentous day for this club at the Emirates."