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Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Sunday, 20 February 2011

FA Cup must retain replays, says Barry Hearn

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn (left) and manager Russell Slade with the FA Cup
Hearn (left) and Orient boss Slade pose with the FA Cup

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn reckons it would be lunacy to tinker with the format of the FA Cup.

There have been calls to scrap replays to create space to introduce a winter break in the football schedule.

But Hearn told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek: "The competition throws up drama by its sheer design.

"That is one of the reasons why the Football Association must never change it. Thoughts of seeding, thoughts of abandoning replays are sheer lunacy."

Hearn, whose team host Arsenal in a fifth-round tie at Brisbane Road on Sunday, added: "If the FA can't see that, they really shouldn't be the custodians of the FA Cup.

"The FA Cup is a wonderful competition. For excitement for real fans up and down the country it is totally unique.

"We were 2-0 down to Droylsden in the second round with 13 minutes to go, playing with only 10 men, but we managed to get into extra time and won 8-2 so there is always drama along the way."

The FA is understood to be considering altering the format of the competition, with regional matches another idea under consideration.

England coach Fabio Capello is keen for the introduction of a winter break to ensure that players remain fresh throughout the season.

But Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has also defended the current format of the FA Cup, arguing that replays can be of vital importance to smaller clubs.

"We have all been there," said Redknapp. "The competition is not just for the big guys.

"When I was manager of Bournemouth we drew with Manchester United and went back to Old Trafford. We fought for our lives to take that match to a replay. That money keeps us going.

"If you take the glamour out of the competition, I think that would be wrong."

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see also
Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal
20 Feb 11 |  FA Cup
Leyton Orient 8-2 Droylsden (aet)
07 Dec 10 |  FA Cup
Leyton Orient will surprise Arsenal - Hearn
18 Feb 11 |  Leyton Orient

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