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Cup magic is in the numbers for Orient

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Chris Bevan | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 18 February 2011

Nothing sums up the contrasting emotions of anyone connected with Leyton Orient at the moment better than the two back-to-back press conferences that were held at their Brisbane Road home on Wednesday.

One minute, charismatic Orient chairman Barry Hearn was kissing the FA Cup trophy and admitting he was "giddy" about the prospect of the League One side's fifth-round tie against Arsenal on Sunday. The next, he was glumly talking about the "grave implications" for the future of his club if, as now seems likely, West Ham move into the Olympic Stadium a few yards up the road after the 2012 Games.

It's not hard to see why Hearn, a trained accountant who admits he "loves a spreadsheet" is so excited about the former and agitated by the latter because, if you wanted to, you could boil both issues down into what they mean in hard cash.

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn

Hearn gets to grips with the FA Cup ahead of the visit of Arsenal. Photo: Getty

First, the good news for O's fans - the televised visit of the Gunners to E10 will help the club to break even for the first time since Hearn took over in 1995. Heady days indeed, especially with the club on a remarkable run of just one defeat in their last 20 games that has taken them from a relegation scrap to the edge of the play-offs. But yes, there is trouble ahead too.

If Hearn is right about the implications of the (altogether more permanent) arrival of the Hammers into the neighbouring postcode of E15, then a flood of discounted tickets will steal floating fans and the next generation of Orient's support, delivering a very serious squeeze to their finances.

"The fact they are going to swamp the market, that's what kills us," said Hearn. "We are talking about the future of a 130-year-old club. Choosing my words extremely carefully, this is a very, very difficult time for Leyton Orient."

Even without the potential threat posed by West Ham, Orient face an annual balancing act just to survive. Average gates of around 5,000 only go so far towards sustaining a League One squad and the O's usually post yearly losses of between £600,000 and £1m, which are covered, for now, by cash reserves raised by the sale of the ground to Hearn a couple of years ago.

That pot of money won't last forever, though, which is all the more reason a rare and money-spinning Cup run is so welcome. Not only are Orient in the last 16 for the first time since 1982, in Arsenal they have finally got the big draw they wanted too.

I have always preferred to look at the FA Cup from an emotional rather than an economic perspective but, given the recent revelations over the dire financial state of most English professional clubs, it seems foolish to ignore the financial aspect of the world's oldest knockout competition. As I found at Orient, there is magic in the numbers too, for smaller clubs at least.

The club's chief executive Matt Porter, a lifelong O's fan, can see it from both points of view. He was in a restaurant with his wife and family when he heard they would play Arsenal, and could not contain himself. "I shouted 'yes' and stood up and ran out," Porter told me. "I had to call (manager) Russell Slade and Barry straight away. It is the sort of thing you think will never happen to us."

It has certainly been a while. All 9,311 tickets for Sunday have gone, the first time Orient have hosted a sell-out fixture since they beat Hull in the second leg of a League Two play-off semi-final in May 2001, when I was covering the O's for the local newspaper (I can still picture Matt Lockwood spanking the winner into the top corner from 30 yards). This is their biggest Cup game since they hosted Tottenham in the third round earlier that same season, and lost to a last-minute goal.

Leyton Orient forward Jimmy Smith

Smith celebrates his winner against Norwich in the third round. Photo: Getty

The figures do stack up impressively too. In total, the club has generated almost £800,000 through this Cup run, from the small - the £1,000 they made from gate receipts from their second-round 1-1 draw at Droylsden - to the big - a total of £200,000 in prize money from getting through four rounds and £247,500 TV cash just from Sunday.

Significantly, that will help offset an annual wage bill of £1.7m, which makes up around 60% of the club's £3m turnover, and it frees up cash for them to sort out the little jobs as well, like the improvements to the ground's PA system which were being made on Wednesday.

It's all part of the fun of running a club where every penny counts. Orient's gates are actually down on last season, and they must do without the income from three clubs who brought big followings in the previous campaign, Leeds, Norwich and Millwall, who were all promoted.

Their fragile finances were further hit when three successive Saturday home games were postponed in December because of the weather, including the traditionally well-attended Boxing Day fixture. Evening gates are always lower and there are less commercial opportunities then too, so the club loses an estimated £15,000 each time a weekend fixture has to be rescheduled in midweek. Small change to your average Premier League player, but enough to worry Porter - until the fifth-round draw was made anyway.

"What does this Cup money mean? It buys us a year," added Porter, who was the club's press officer before becoming the youngest chief executive in Football League history in 2006 at the age of 26. "By breaking even, we start next year having had a free season that hasn't cost us anything.

"We usually run at a loss but it's a manageable loss, one that we know we are going to make" he explained. "So, it's not a surprise and it is not bad management - it is a planned loss. Ok, it isn't fantastic but it is realistic. If we halved our wage bill we would break even and finish bottom of League One - so where do you want to be?"

Remaining in existence is probably the answer most fans would give to that question at the moment, given how seriously Hearn is taking the Olympic Stadium situation, but they can take heart from the extraordinary manner of Orient's Cup run so far.

So far, their exploits have included scoring six goals in extra-time of their second round replay win over Droylsden, and two away wins against the odds over Championship high-flyers Norwich and Swansea.

The Gunners, fresh from their Champions League win over Barcelona, are a different prospect but the typically bullish Hearn sees that battle as winnable, and fancies upsetting the big boys himself over the Olympic arena issue too.

"Once Sunday is over we are back to normal and I'm dealing with a huge problem here," he said. "This could be the end of Leyton Orient so, just as I expect my team to give 100% effort on the field against Arsenal, I have assured everyone on my board, in the supporter groups and the local community that I will give 100% effort to make sure we stay in business ourselves."

Follow me on Twitter at Brisbane Road on Sunday, and for the rest of the season too.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's amazing to see a proud history of a club being threatened by liquidation and then see some of the top teams spending money that would keep Orient afloat for a considerable amount of time, on one player that is struggling to even score goals.

    It's a crazy world we live in.

  • Comment number 2.

    Many small clubs are run this way - 60% of their cash spent on wages is unsustainable, even without West Ham stealing the floaters.

    I never like to see chairmen of clubs buying the grounds off the clubs they're at, either - obviously they felt that they had no other option, but if the disaster happens, Hearn walks away with a nice bit of land, ad the club have nothing. They're piddling away their assets just staying alive.

    They can't - and won't - keep going like this.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm an Arsenal fan and was there on Weds night... what a night.... But, rotation or not (I was also at the Leeds game where we rotated a few players and almost came unstuck) there will be some heavy legs playing on an unfamiliar, non-premiership standard, pitch. The passing game falls apart a bit and you need to get stuck in a bit more.

    Fitness isn't such a big difference any more, most teams know how to train and what to eat. I do expect an Arsenal win, of course, but LO could always nick a draw. I'm sure they'd love a win, but a replay at the Emirates, where I think they'd get most of the gate (like Crawley Town are) would pay their wages for 2 years.

    What's happened to their talk of moving to the hockey stadium? I know WH are going to swamp the market to try and fill the stadium, but LO have got to try and compete on their own level somehow??

  • Comment number 4.

    The wages % is not good. It shoudl never really go past 40% of turnover. Hearn has a point about West Ham's discounted ticketing but he has teh chance prior to that to be offering discounted tickets in schools himself. London has a massive population with at least 500,000 people living in the East End. EVen allowing for West Ham and Dagenham they should be able to attract more fans through schools and college promotions

  • Comment number 5.

    Can anybody remember what football was like in England before Sky and the Premier League destroyed it?

    Now it's not about glory or entertainment or trophies or community it's all about the money.

    If your at the top it's how much money can be made fleecing fans, qualifying for the (inappropriately named) Champions League, how can the 'Brand' be sold to emerging markets etc

    If your in the middle it's all about hoping a wealthy benefactor will take over your club,

    If your at the bottom it's all about mere survival scrimping and saving and trying to get every last penny just to survive.

    Sky and the Premier League has killed football in this country, and what is very worrying is that a large percentage of people do not realise it!

    The propaganda/hype machine tells us that we are watching 'the greatest league in the world' and 'the most competitive league in the world' in reality we are watching a league that is won most years by the same team (Man Utd) who are occasionaly challenged by whatever team is the latest plaything of bored billionaires (Chelsea, Man City). The same teams are at the bottom every year, and the top 4 can be picked from 5/6 clubs every year. Last year Tottenham did a lap of honor because they managed 4th!!!!

    Look at Everton. A fantastic old club who just don't have the money to compete (Because in modern day English football 15 mil for Fellaini and 7-8 mil for Bilyaletdinov is peanuts).

    Look at Portsmouth and Leeds Utd nearly driven to extinction trying to chase the pot of gold. Look at the financial troubles of Liverpool and Man Utd as the 'brands' had huge debts placed on them. Look lower down the English pyramid at the endless amount of clubs who have gone into administration as they are starved of the money that is hoarded in the Premier League.

    How about player and manager wages? Who is paying these crazy amounts? Answer is the fans through rip off merchandise, and extortinate Sky subscriptions and ticket prices.

    The FA Cup has been totally downgraded (There isn't the money in it). Teams at the top don't really care and teams struggling in the Premier League don't care because far more money can be made staying in the Greed is Good league.

    One of the reasons for the creation of the Premier League was to help the English national team. Has that happened? The Premier League is constantly at odds with what is best for the National team (hopeless shambles that they are!)

    Now some people will say look how the money has helped clubs get bigger stadiums etc! Unfortunately these stadiums are now jam packed with corporate clients etc. Look at Cup Final tickets once all the 'corporate' tickets have been handed out the average football fan has about as much change of getting a ticket as I have of getting a Willy Wonka Golden ticket (and I eat a lot of chocolate!) Of course this is always assuming that they can afford the incredible prices!

    Football fans in this country need to wake up and turn their backs on the Sky/Premier League money grabbing, propaganda spinning mess before football in this country is destroyed for good.

  • Comment number 6.

    West Ham are not stealing anything. That's a ridiculous suggestion. They are moving from Newham to .............Newham! Hundreds of Hammers fans go to Orient anyway when the Irons are away (as I do) so I think Barry Hearn should be grateful, and 'up' his investment in the Orient squard if he wants success and gates to rise.
    See that Barry is quite happy to contemplate moving to Harlow - hardly a stones throw from Leyton, is it?

  • Comment number 7.

    #6 - interesting point there I never knew that. Maybe they could have a partnership agreement where WHU season ticket holders get some form of ticketr where they can get say 3 games for £50 or something. lots of options available for that.

    Everyone's attendances in Londonw ill suffer in 2012 cos everyone will be skint from the Olympics

  • Comment number 8.

    #4 "One of the reasons for the creation of the Premier League was to help the English national team. Has that happened? The Premier League is constantly at odds with what is best for the National team (hopeless shambles that they are!)"

    Is this true? Any sources available?

  • Comment number 9.

    Surely if Orient haven't got enough fans to sustain their football club that is not anyones fault but their own? If they pay 60% of their revenue on wages then that is unsustainable and they would probably be suited to a lower league?
    Now if West Ham want to move nearby, its not their problem if Orient's business plan cannot be sustained. I don't understand people that say the richer clubs are bullying the poorer ones. The fact is that clubs are generally in the league that reflects their turnover and fanbase.

    If we halved our wage bill we would break even and finish bottom of League One - so where do you want to be?"

    This comment is rubbish as well. If you can't survive in League one without overspending, the fact is that the club probably don't belong in League one. At the end of the day it is a business and Orient now have competition in their area. If they don't stay afloat it is because of their own business model not others.

  • Comment number 10.

    funny how its "barry hearns leyton orient" now they get us in a cup game. anyone from lower down itd just be leyton orient as it wwas when they were struggling to win a game. west ham won the bid (or are doing) leyton orient or hearn dont own a inch of the land of the new stadium so shut up its technically nothing do with them. all the people that live in london, west ham WONT fill that stadium. so you tell me mr hearn why cant you pull in supporters who could be filling what will be the many empty seats at the olympic stadium but arent? you only ever hear from hearn when hes after attention or money..... all this is about is hes after one big pay off to shut up over the stadium issue (n i dont even like west ham) but they have the right to move there if the people who decide it have said they can.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why is it always about the OS? Ignore that for this weekend and let's celebrate our FANTASTIC cup exploits.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am not a West Ham or an Orient fan but there seems to be a sensible solution to all of this - which could in fact help both sides - they could formally request that the Premier League and the Football League organise the fixtures so that both teams are never at home on the same day.

    Similar to how they would need to do it if both teams shared a ground i.e. like the Milan teams.

    This way both sets of fans and any others interested could go see both teams without having an adverse impact on each other.

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 13.

    how can a person with common sense firmly assume that the premier league was created to help the England national team when some premier league club cannot afford average english player whose market value is 5 times their actual worth i.e carrol, bent, milner, lescott, SWP,e.t.c were not worth the money paid on them. Imagine messi an english player ,his value will be 500m pounds .this reason A team like Arsenal cant compete.

  • Comment number 14.

    Very good blog

    As a sort of neutral, I've far more interest in this cup tie than the other 'underdog' story this weekend of Man U Crawley. On one hand we have Orient a division 1 league club, just about balancing the books due to this game at home to a premiership title contender. On the other hand we have a premiership title contender at home (where they're awesome) to a non league side that the deluded media seems to have build up as a romantic story, despite the fact they have spent more on transfer fees and wages than a lot of division 1 clubs and even some championship clubs despite having gates far smaller than the Orient (who you state are struggling on those gates) and despite having been in administration twice in the last 5 years. Oh and the fact they've got a manager with a very dodgy past (see Boston United).

    As a Spurs fan, obviously cheering on Orient! Also looking forward to seeing how the various Spurs youngsters get on.

    By the way, interesting in the talk about how West Ham are so close to Orient, I may have missed it but have there been many cases where West Ham have lent out players to their near neighbours?? Because it certainly seems that Spurs have done that particularly in recent seasons (Kane, M'Poku, Carroll at present, Butcher, Daniels, Townsend in the past).

  • Comment number 15.

    #2, #4 & #9 - A point about Orient's percentage of turnover spent on wages, 60% is less than the average Premiership %. UEFA guidelines suggest that clubs should limit the ratio of wages to turnover to 70%. Over half the Premiership clubs failed to do this last season. Whether you like Barry Hearn or not, you can't really accuse him of financial mismanagement.

    #9, frenchman87 - If you read Barry Hearn's statement properly, you'd see that his argument is not with West Ham, it's with the various football authorities who are breaking their own rules if they sanction the move, and whether 'due process' (look it up) has been taken by the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

  • Comment number 16.

    13. At 1:09pm on 18 Feb 2011, Lastmanstandin wrote:
    how can a person with common sense firmly assume that the premier league was created to help the England national team when some premier league club cannot afford average english player whose market value is 5 times their actual worth i.e carrol, bent, milner, lescott, SWP,e.t.c were not worth the money paid on them. Imagine messi an english player ,his value will be 500m pounds .this reason A team like Arsenal cant compete.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Erm because it was supposedly created to help the English team when it was created back in 1992.

    Back then there weren't massive amounts of foreign players and the transfer record fee was possibly only about £3 million.

    And one reason why English players are so expensive is because they're generally bought by English clubs from their rival English clubs who don't want to lose them. I notice you haven't included Chelsea paying £50million for Torres - that was so inflated because it was 2 rival clubs involved. If Barca wanted to buy a Real Madrid player the price would be equally as inflated.

  • Comment number 17.

    The wider question about the sustainability of lower league clubs comes down to everyone paying what they can afford. Unfortunately no club - Leyton Orient included - will do it arbitrarily unless a wider crsis forces them to, as no-one wants to lose ground on similar-sized clubs.

    And the money being spent at the top of football is sick when you look at League One and Two clubs. The Premier League doesn't want to care about the rest of the football pyramid, but soon (5-10 years) there might be no pyramid beneath them. Certainly if Leyton Orient goes, that's it for me as far as spending money on football is concerned.

    Re: turnover spent on wages. 60% is about the level of the salary cap in League Two, and I suspect you'd find clubs at League One level spending far more than that. An interesting comparator would also be the amount of turnover spent in the top two divisions as they chase (or try to cling to) the Premier League pot of gold.

    Football generally, at all levels, has to spread the money around better and get the spend on wages down so that everyone does no worse than break even.

    Finally, the Olympic Stadium. "They are moving from Newham to .............Newham!" Yes, but that's not the point. In the Premier League's rules, the ground criteria refers to moves to "the immediate vicinity" of another club. The Olympic Stadium is clearly that close. That factor hasn't been appropriately considered, simple as.

  • Comment number 18.

    As a Gooner I'd like to see The Arsenal win against Orient, but as a football fan I'd like to see Orient get a draw to get the most they possibly could out of the tie to help them survive financially. When will the elite of the football world wake up and realise that little brother isn't gonna make it if the football world as a whole doesn't do something about it. Sadly probably never!!

  • Comment number 19.

    How can a person with common sense firmly assume that the premier league was created to help the England national team when some premier league club cannot afford average english player whose market value is 5 times their actual worth i.e carrol, bent, milner, lescott, SWP,e.t.c were not worth the money paid on them. Imagine messi an english player ,his value will be 500m pounds .this is the reason a team like Arsenal cant compete.

  • Comment number 20.

    It is funny how these articles about Leyton Orient fail to mention the club's hypocritical behaviour - for some years they have sought to lure away disaffected and priced-out West Ham fans by offering discounted tickets.

    Let us not forget that this is the same club previously based in Hackney, going by the name of Clapton Orient which decided to move firmly into West Ham territory in the first place. Barry Hearn is shamelessly chasing a payout to finance his plans to move the club to Harlow and I for one will be delighted when he gets absolutely nothing.

  • Comment number 21.

    Very good blog

    Nice to see that there are some sensible comments coming from Arsenal and Tottenham ranks (mtrenners, WSGooner) and also from joffonon above.

    Football really MUST realise that if the pyramid goes, then football goes. As joffonon states, "Certainly if Leyton Orient goes, that's it for me as far as spending money on football is concerned.

    I can only echo that comment, despite having lived nearer to several other top division clubs in the past 30 years, I have never once had the inclination to go and watch them or change my allegiance. I think for most football fans that support at lower league level, there is no desire to ever switch clubs, and it is surely the case that once the grass roots shrivel through lack of funding, then the flower above will soon die too.

    On the cup tie, I don't believe that Orient really stand too much of a chance on Sunday, but to be honest, I would be happy with a good display, and hopefully they will score a meaningful goal i.e. before we are losing by more than 2-0. If that happens then fine, we have enjoyed our run. Anything better, and we are in dreamland.

    On the OS issues, I think most fans, including those from Arsenal and Spurs, can largely see the severely adverse impact Gold/Sullivan offering free or cheap tickets would have on the long term viability of LOFC. Unfortunately, it is only the WHU fans that largely choose to differ, appropriately displaying their greed in trying to get their hands on the OS, presumably because they believe it may catapult them to the same level that Spurs and Arsenal currently inhabit. That they want to achieve that is not incorrect; that they don't mind achieving it by triggering the demise of their nearest neighbour is absolutely shameful.

    TT

  • Comment number 22.

    TT

    I see your point on the OS and I think this is why Hearn stated that he'd rather Spurs got the OS than WHU - as they wouldn't be given discounted tickets and therefore it's extremely unlikely they'd be taking fans away from Orient.

    I also support Shrewsbury (my local team) so completely understand the lower league problems. It's a different world. Unfortunately there's a lot of very ignorant premiership fans who fail to understand the importance of the footballing pyramid and the need for it to sound at all levels.

  • Comment number 23.

    Good article Chris but I'm afraid Leyton Orient's FA romance ends this weekend. Will be nice if they can force a replay at the Emirates. More revenue.

  • Comment number 24.

    #12, A nice idea but it think it would boil down to people's disposable income. I suspect that the vast majority of fans can only really afford to support one team even with the best intentions.
    The question I think would be which team are people likely to spend their money on, with an eye on entertainment value (no disrespect intended to Orient) - Premier League or League One?
    I don't believe Orient will see their gates suffer vastly in the near future as every club in this country has a loyal fan base of some sort, the problem will be attracting the youngsters who have yet to form their allegiances, there lies the problem and their is where Leyton orient have a case to be heard as West Ham are encroaching on their catchment area.

  • Comment number 25.

    i was born 2 miles from Highbury, always been an Arsenal fan and always will be. we moved to the east end where we lived a couple of miles from the O's - when we couldn't get to the Arsenal my Dad would always take me to Brisbane Road. i must admith I'm torn on Sunday, obviously i want AFC to win everything that they can but I am hoping for a draw as it'll give the Orient a much neede boost to the bank balance - also it'll give my Dad ( alifelong Orient fan) a chance to say he saw them play at the Emirates (as I've promised him a ticket if there is a replay).

    London needs community clubs like Orient, a lot of the fans there have been there since we went in the 70's and will probably drop dead there. it's a great little club that deserves some luck and i hope that starts with a draw on Sunday ( and AFC winning the replay obviously).

  • Comment number 26.

    Orient also have the disavantage to most other lower league teams that they are situated in an area where house prices are higher than the rest of England. So to attract players they have to offer more wages than most, just so the player can relocate or cover their mortgage. I think it is pretty amazing they are doing so well this season and Russell Slade must be congratulated for it, as he has brought in some key players and have several players who can score, which I can't remember the last time that was. Brisbane Road could have been sold out 3 or 4 times over for the Arsenal game. A win would be fantasic but a draw would be a great reward and would be a wonderful experience to watch it at the Emirates. Come on the Os!

  • Comment number 27.

    I feel sorry for LO. They have to play a team that has just beaten the best team in the world, Barcelona. They will be lucky to get a draw at most.

  • Comment number 28.

    I love blogs like this, mainly because all the comments are so fun to read.

    "Football has been destroyed by the Premier League and Sky!" :D

  • Comment number 29.

    28. At 5:18pm on 18 Feb 2011, Carekoala wrote:
    I love blogs like this, mainly because all the comments are so fun to read.

    "Football has been destroyed by the Premier League and Sky!" :D

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Interesting. Apparently ignorance is bliss!

  • Comment number 30.

    Makes for sad reading. Im old enough to just about remember the Os 1 season in the old first Div.

  • Comment number 31.

    PS They should have been allowed to transfer the tie to Arsenal.

  • Comment number 32.

    @#27 - Why do you feel sorry for us? This is a great opportunity to play a big PL side live on the telly; you never know, we might even get a few more casual fans out of it!

    What's the worst thing that can happen? Arsenal stick a few goals past us, and we go back to the league with a few quid and a potential playoff push to look forward to. Sounds good to me.

  • Comment number 33.

    Who's to say that by the time West Ham moves, it won't be a League One side too?
    Who knows? Orient might even be in the Premiership.

  • Comment number 34.

    #4, #8, #16:

    The dumbest thing I've heard, PL being created to help the national team. Google it and I'm sure you'll find 100 articles explaining how ITV and top teams wanted to make more money and share less with the smaller clubs, then Rupert Murdoch and Sky stole it from under ITV.

    It's the same reason there's been talks about Premier League Two, European Super League, etc.

  • Comment number 35.

    O's fans know how to dream. Beat Bury last game of the season to grab promotion to Div One with LIVERPOOL! Then Beat Everton 3-0 at home and beat some mob that's playing Crawley, 1-0 at home too.
    Tommy Johnston can't wait.

  • Comment number 36.

    "One of the reasons for the creation of the Premier League was to help the English national team."

    I always thought it was to do with an argument over tv rights.

  • Comment number 37.

    Arsenal will rest much of the team from midweek so this will be an interesting game, as an Arsenal fan I obviously want us to progress but certainly would not be overly upset with a draw and a replay. That would give the squad players more game time and provide a huge financial windfall for the Orient. In the heat of the match of course such fine judgements go out of the window but in the aftermath if it is a draw then there will be the satisfaction that it will help secure the the immediate future of a neighbouring club.

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks for all your comments so far... am looking forward to going back to Brisbane Road on Sunday now. I spent most Saturdays down there for a few seasons so is always a trip down memory lane, even if the ground has changed a lot in the 10 years or so since I covered Orient regularly.

    The Olympic issue will run and run, and even Hearn doesn't know the answer. As for the Cup, I'm glad to see sine Arsenal fans wouldn't begrudge the O's a replay, although I don't think Mr Wenger would agree! The money from that would go a long way to Orient breaking even again next year, so no wonder Hearn says he will take the squad to Las Vegas if they do get a draw tomorrow!

  • Comment number 39.

    #31 - no they shouldn;t be able to move it. people continuously miss the point. They have a home tie, tickets are sold, ground is full, play the match. financially they'd make more, don't their club deserve to host Arsenal? i'd argue yes.
    .
    The issue with the OS being taken on by West Ham has been raised by Hearn as the Premier league rule 6.5 states:
    "would not adversely effect clubs (or Football league clubs) having their registered grounds in the immedaite vicinity of the proposed location."
    .
    From what i gather the site is close (less than 1km)to Brisbane Road. This shall undoubtedly have an impact on the club, the support it can get, where peoples money is spent, the youth they can take into their youth schemes, community projects. The above Premier League RULE does not allow for it.
    .
    There are 101 problems with the Olympics, the way it has been financed, budgeted, organised, the legacy(?), the decision making to name a few. But, too many people have too many interests for it to work properly. This bid should not happen now, this should have been decided before a brick was laid and then the club/organisation that took the stadium on should have paid towards it.

  • Comment number 40.

    I can't see how the football league retains the number of clubs it has now in the future. The money for clubs in the lower leagues just is not there. I expect that we'll see a collapse down to a more sustainable number of clubs within my lifetime. Unlike some of the comments above, I don't see this change having any real impact on the Prem and I seriously doubt the idea that people will stop spending money on football in large numbers due to the death of some lower league clubs. The more likely outcome is that the next generation of supporters will grow up without a connection to a club down the ladder and will end up supporting one of the usual Prem clubs. I know this outcome annoys lower league supporters but wishing that the Prem would go away or that more people will be drawn to lower league clubs is simply not going to happen. Comparing the structure of football here to other countries suggests that the football league is the anomaly. The top division in those countries does not seem to suffer from this arrangement so why would the Prem be hurt by the failure of lower league clubs that clearly are spending too much and earning too little?

  • Comment number 41.

    I emigrated to N.Z. in 1959, but have always been an Orient fan. In the 1950's it had a talented team that scored a lot of goals and got crowds of 15,000 - 20,000. With the ground capacity now 9,000 and an average gate of 5,000, the owner / management haven't got a hope of the club ever rising above fingertip existence level, especially as West Ham will be playing 3 kms away. So why not move the club offshore to a city / place where there's potential but no competition? North West London seems a possibility. May the ghosts of Tommy Johnston, Phil White, Ron Heckman Edmonds, Vic Groves, Len Julian, et al be with you tomorrow, beloved O's.

  • Comment number 42.

    Barry Hearn's argument is flawed. It is just a technical point because Brisbane Road is closer by a few hundred yards to the Olympic Stadium than West Ham's current ground (2.4 miles to 1.7 miles)

    Why should West Ham United be prevented from moving to West Ham in the same London Borough they currently are based in. Why should any club be prevented from moving grounds within its own home town.

    Leyton Orient are in the LB of Walthan Forest
    West Ham are in LB of Newham
    Olympic Stadium is in LB of Newham

    I don't think there will be any additional detriment to the O's than sadly the loss of fans that most lower league teams have been suffering. It is only 3.5 miles from Upton Park to Brisbane Road now!

    Good Luck to the O's tomorrow

  • Comment number 43.

    I lived in Leyton a few years back for a year and went to watch the O's each home game. I can understand Hearn's concern over West Ham's move because from the the tube station, it's as quick to walk to the Olympic Stadium as it is the O's ground. West Ham will take some of Orient's future supporters away - there is no doubt. It's a shame really as the Matchroom Stadium is a fine example of proper football and I enjoyed every minute there!

  • Comment number 44.

    Orient will get their payday this weekend and good luck to them in the league but I will not get all misty eyed about their financial situation.

    Hearn has put money into the club by buying their key asset, the ground, and he has made a fortune from developing flats in the corners. He went into overdrive about the prospect of not getting various planning permissions possibly causing the club to go under and he seems to make a habit of returning to the same old tired argument.

    The Os have had roughly the same average gate for as long as I can remember and have always pulled in extra support from West Ham fans when the Hammers are away. How many of them will get so fed up with Hearn that they decide to go to watch Dagenham & Redbridge instead?

    Basically, Orient are a small club punching above their weight and being in existence for x number of years does not give you an automatic right to be given protection. Will they be bothered about a lower league club like Harlow Town if they move? No, did not think so.

  • Comment number 45.

    @steve T

    Because it breaks the Premier League's rules about clubs locations, you simpleton - it's really not that hard to grasp if you have half a brain.

  • Comment number 46.

    45. At 8:24pm on 19 Feb 2011, AlexSM wrote:

    @steve T

    Because it breaks the Premier League's rules about clubs locations, you simpleton - it's really not that hard to grasp if you have half a brain.

    HOW RIDICULOUS ..... The difference in distance between the clubs and OS is half a dozen goal kicks. Teams change grounds every now and again.
    There are already a dozen or more clubs fighting for the same local support. If we were talking about west ham moving to lets say ... ipswich and being 1 mile from them i could understand the arguement.
    West ham and Orient have overlapping catchment areas already, they always have done. To the west they overlap with tottenhams catchment area as well. Its not about distance or catchment areas , its about West Ham trying to fill a bigger ground with cheaper tickets.
    We applauded Orient when they started their campaign to get more supporters by undermining west ham, tottenham , charlton and arsenals pricing structures. Its a bit hypocritcal of them to accuse West ham of planning to do something they have activley been doing for several years.
    West ham have been offering kids for quid for years already, so what difference is being 1/2 a mile closer going to make.

    PS BARRY ... If you do manage to get a little hush money from the prem and olympib legacy i hope they make you give it to harlow when you move onto their patch.


  • Comment number 47.

    Although I live in Western Australia, I will always support the Orient. It is more than football, it is family, tradition and the community.
    My Dad and brother will be there to welcome a great team to our ground. It may not be Madrid, Milan, or Munich but to Os fans it is our home.

    Come on Orient

  • Comment number 48.

    Sounds like Orient are already virtually bust - they certainly have an unsustainable business model at present. They sold their ground to Hearn and are gradually frittering away what's left of the money to sustain a team in L1.

    When it's all gone, what next? Well, as the Chief Exec is quoted as saying in the article, they will have to live within their means, which means cutting the wage bill and probable relegation to L2.

  • Comment number 49.

    for.. magicfloridahammer

    The issue is not the distance of the clubs from the OS,but the distance of the OS(where West Ham want to play) from Brisbane Road (where Leyton Orient play).

    steveT states that West Ham are currently 3.5miles away, appartenly the OS shall be less than 1 mile away from Brisbane road, that is a big difference.
    Leyton Orient are so typical of so many clubs in the lower leagues. There is a clamour for lower league and indeed non league clubs to be professional and spend the big bucks.
    What, sadly, is needed is for the fans to stay away from games (a la Niall Quinns commments) a big club or 2 to suffer, the premier league and sky to have a sqeaky bum time and pull the plug, lower the money going into the game,therefore less rewards, less need to pursue the dream.
    I could go on but i'll save that for another day.....

  • Comment number 50.

    Im sorry but i can't totally sympathise with orient here. My local team (Stevenage) formed out of the ashes of a bankrupt club and now we sit middle of league 2 (our highest ever position in the pyramid! :D) with no debt as such and having never been relegated, had a scorching F.A. Cup run this year, and winning the F.A. Trophy twice in 3 years a while back. How can a club possibly get itself into this situation.

    Orient sell your team and rejoing L2, it's better to fight another day than not to fight at all! :P

  • Comment number 51.

    Since 1995–96 the FA Cup has been won by MU, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Portsmouth; so mainly by team who qualified for the CL through their League position. As some have suggested, for example Alan Green, that the winners of the FA cup should get a CL berth, in order to revitalise the competition, what would this mean if the winenrs had already qualified via their league position?

    Would the runners up get the berth instead? Besides the teams already mentioned, runners up in this same time period are Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Southampton, Millwall, West Ham, Cardiff City, and Everton......

 

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