In what is undoubtedly the darkest period in the club’s history, Leyton Orient are in a very delicate situation.
The Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust held a special meeting on March 2nd to discuss the future of the club.
With over 300 people in the meeting, the LOFT Chair, Doug Harper, made sure their purpose was clear and announced to the room: ‘’There is only one Orient and we will not let it die!’’
The club is going through very difficult times, not only on the pitch, where the O’s are currently on the verge of relegation to the National League, but they are also going through a very complicated financial situation.
The East London based club are reportedly buried in debt and HM Revenue & Customs have served a winding-up petition on the club.
These are some of the issues discussed in the meeting as leytonorientfantrust.com report:
- A winding-up petition has been served on the club by HM Revenue and Customs, believed to be for non-payment of PAYE – the exact amount isn’t known but has been reported as £250,000 in the media
- The petition is due to be heard in the High Court on Monday 20 March
- LOFT’s position is that liquidation should be avoided at all costs – if there is a chance to preserve Leyton Orient, that should be taken
- An administration would however mean a 12-point deduction this season, if it takes place before the EFL’s deadline of 23 March (i.e. 3 days after the hearing) – almost certainly relegating the club to the National League
- If an administration takes place after 23 March, the points would be deducted at the start of the following season (including if the club is relegated to the National League, where it would be a 10-point deduction instead)
At this point in time, it is a wonder how the players and even the coaching staff feel.
Even if they manage to pull off a ‘great escape’, the club is still in danger of liquidation, meaning Leyton Orient’s 136-year history would come to a tragic end.
Leyton Orient have always been a very respected club in the Football League, and are attracting a lot of support. The Fans’ Trust have set up a Regeneration Fund on gofundme.com, with the hope they can achieve their £250,000 target.
So far, over £67,000 have been raised, with over 740 donations from people across the world, from east London to the USA.
It is an obvious pity seeing such a traditional club suffer the consequences of a disastrous ownership.
But how is it possible for a club that in 2014 were 30 minutes away from the Championship, to be in the position they are in today?
This is where Mr. Francesco Becchetti, comes in.
After buying Leyton Orient in July 2014, the club faced a major decline and was relegated in the first season after the great campaign that nearly ended up with the O’s in the second tier of English football.
Leyton Orient are a small, family club, a club that regardless of being in the Football League for 112 years, never really rose to become a major club in the capital, unlike their near neighbour, West Ham United.
But now, as Leyton Orient fight for survival, it is time to take a look at what is rapidly sucking the life out of the club.
Since the purchase of the club by Mr. Becchetti, the club has seen a total of nine managers take charge of the main team (including caretakers) in just under three seasons.
An influx of Italian members of staff and also players was noticeable.
And several questionable decisions started to raise eyebrows.
The decision to appoint Alberto Cavasin, in October 2016, was controversial to say the least.
Cavasin had been away from football for five years, when in 2011 he was in charge of the Sampdoria side that got relegated to Serie B.
Another major issue, was that the Italian manager did not speak English at all and struggled to get his ideas across.
While all these bizarre decisions took place, the LOFT kept growing in size, having its number of members almost double over a four-week period.
It has been less than three years since the Playoff Final, and it is mind-blowing to realize that no player involved in that brilliant campaign is at the club.
A squad that was hard working, talented and also sustainable, was torn apart by a new boss that seems to know very little about how to run a football club and new players were brought into the club on wages that were beyond the club’s financial reality.
Andrea Dossena joined the club on a reported £7,000 per week. Then in August 2014, Darius Henderson joined the O’s from Nottingham Forest. The then 32-year old was rumoured to be given a £150,000 signing-on fee and weekly wage of £9,000.
These two cases are prime examples of the club’s ownership, with the club clearly punching above its weight on the financial side of the business for not so valuable assets.
Football needs clubs like Leyton Orient and the whole footballing world is rooting for a comeback.
In the words of Doug Harper: ‘’There is only one Orient and we will not let it die!’’