‘Russell Slade is Prince Charming and he’s woken Leyton Orient up’ - Hearn hails O’s boss
PUBLISHED: 12:57 19 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:57 19 May 2014
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Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn has likened the O’s to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as the east Londoners aim to complete a fairytale season with promotion to the Championship.
Russell Slade’s side face Rotherham in the League One play-off final on Sunday with a return to the second tier for the first time since the 1981/82 season and Hearn has paid tribute to the Orient boss, describing him as Prince Charming.
Many O’s supporters believe they are still in a fairytale after reaching the play-off final but that is the reality of the situation.
“It’s absolutely the biggest game in my time involved with Leyton Orient,” the chairman said.
“This feels like a football club that has woken up. It’s a bit like Sleeping Beauty.
“I’ve never really thought of Leyton Orient as Sleeping Beauty.
“I’ve never thought of Leyton Orient as a sleeping beauty of the East End.
“I’ve never really thought about Russell Slade as the handsome prince either.
“I think Russell Slade has kissed Sleeping Beauty and woken the club up.
“Russell Slade is Prince Charming and he’s woken Leyton Orient up.
“Everybody who has had any association with the east end of London has suddenly realised that this is real football and not a fairy tale.”
Ticket sales have been going well and Orient should have well in excess of 20,000 fans in attendance at the national stadium on Sunday.
“The queues have gone around Coronation Gardens,” Hearn added. “We were given an initial allocation of 20,000 but we’ve gone back and asked for more.
“I’ve have people I’ve not spoken to for 20 years ringing me up for tickets.”
Despite reaching Wembley, it won’t enhance the club’s coffers, once bonus money has been paid out.
Only promotion would see Orient’s funds enhanced with a windfall in the region of £4-5million.
“[It will bring in] no money at all. Once Wembley has taken their 25 per cent, the rest of the money will go to paying the players’ bonuses,” Hearn explained.
“Promotion would be worth around £4-5million. It’s a lot of money and gives Russell the chance to test himself in the Championship.
“That said, we’d still have one of the smallest budgets in the Championship anyway.
“We had one of the smallest budgets in League One this season.”
No matter what happens, it has been a season to remember for Orient and Hearn is expecting the day out at Wembley to be, at worst, a terrific day.
“We’re confident of winning but Rotherham are a very good side,” he explained.
“They beat us at their place. We beat them at our place. Whichever way the result goes it’s going to be a terrific day or an unbelievable day.”
The Orient players might already be going to Las Vegas after reaching the end-of-season showdown but there could be more bonuses in the kitty available to them should they win.
“There may be a few more shillings in the beer kitty if they win on Sunday.” Hearn added. “There will be plenty of incentives available for them to win.”