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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 10:09 GMT
Hearn has high hopes for Orient
By Paul Fletcher

Leyton Orient chairman and owner Barry Hearn
Football is a game that always ends in tears
Barry Hearn
Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn says he believes the current crop of players at Brisbane Road are as good as any he has seen in his decade in charge.

"I think under Martin Ling we now have the best squad in my 10 years at the club," Hearn told BBC Sport.

"His squad has more character than any I've seen. They can handle an away game on a rainy Tuesday evening in Carlisle.

"Promotion would be a huge boost and reward for the fans and the investment the board and myself have made."

Hearn first walked through the doors at Brisbane Road in April 1995.

The club was in a mess financially and was relegated at the end of the season but Hearn, best known for his involvement in snooker and boxing, had big plans for the club.

Off the pitch Hearn has realised huge improvement, developing the ground and establishing an asset base that ensures the club is on a stable footing.

But on the pitch it has been a tale of frustration, with Orient losing the 1999 and 2001 play-off finals and still looking for a way out of the Football League's bottom division.

"It has been a long, hard struggle, punctuated by plenty of times when you wonder what you are doing," added Hearn.

"Of all the sports I've been involved in over the years my failure rate in football is higher than any other."

The near misses have taught Hearn to temper his optimism, but the Orient chairman is pleased with what he has seen this season.

Leyton Orient manager Martin Ling
If Martin gets me promotion I expect him to bang my door down for a decent new contract
Barry Hearn on Martin Ling

Orient are currently third in the League Two table, three points behind leaders Wycombe.

"You can only hope. Football is a game that always ends in tears - and that's more of a reason why we should enjoy the good times," he added.

"I like what I see this season. We are unbeaten away from home, which is unheard of. When I took over we didn't win away for two years.

"We are two matches off equalling our best-ever unbeaten run in 120-odd years of the club's existence.

"That doesn't mean we will get promoted but it augurs well."

Hearn is determined to stick to the principles of a club that has strong ties with the community, and one which gives local players the opportunity to play professional football.

He freely admits he knows little about football, but a lot about business, and prefers to give his managers a budget for the forthcoming season then leave them alone to do their job.

"I have learnt that if I appoint a manager I should leave him to manage and give him as much backing and support as I can - but if he does not do the business he has to go," said Hearn.

"Football is black and white in that respect.

"I don't like getting rid of people, I would rather keep them for years and years like in my other businesses but football is about results.

You have to fight and claw your way out of League Two
Barry Hearn

"If Martin Ling gets me promotion this year I expect him to bang my door down for a decent new contract.

"But Martin understands that if results don't go well he won't be bashing my door down and I might be bashing his to get rid of him."

Brisbane Road is nestled in the east end of London, one tube stop from the Stratford area that will be at the very heart of the 2012 Olympics.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Hearn is hoping Orient can finally deliver on the field and prosper at a time when the media spotlight will be shining on the area.

"With the Olympics coming to our area in seven years and the attention that will bring we will never have a better opportunity to progress," he said.

"But that means nothing if you don't progress on the grass. Sport is about momentum - you get a different type of feeling when you are moving forward.

"If we get promotion and start flying we could surprise a few people."




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