Leyton Orient are due to start the 2017/18 season in the Vanarama National League, however press reports suggest that their is a real possibility that the club may fall into the same fate as newly wound up Ilkeston FC.
Amidst rumours on social media and contradicting opinions on the matter I thought I’d do a round up of what the situation is from my research.
UPDATE: If you want to read the Q&A from the ‘Leyton Orient Fans Trust’ then click here.
The Becchetti Era (2014-present)
In April 2017 Leyton Orient’s relegation from League Two was confirmed with a 3-0 loss to Crewe which ended a 112-year stay in the English Football League.
The club have been in free fall ever since owner Francesco Becchetti took charge in 2014
after a successful League One campaign where they just missed out on being promoted to the Championship.
The O’s were relegated in Becchetti’s first season in charge at the club and dropped into the fourth tier of English football, spending a year in League Two before finishing bottom this past season with 36 points and a negative 40 goal difference.
Fans have protested on the pitch against their owner during a league game and players and staff have gone without being paid whilst the Italian owner has been absent from the club in the latter stages of the season.
Under Becchetti as owner Leyton Orient have had 11 managers in three years.
The Financial Situation
Leyton Orient did owe HMRC £250,000 over unpaid taxes a few months ago but owner Francesco Becchetti has since paid these in full at the end of March.
However it has since been revealed that the club have four more creditors who are due money. These are reported to be as follows:
London Borough of Waltham Forest Council – £35,000
Central Circle Event Management Ltd – £18,664
Leyton Orient FC Photographer – £6000
Unknown Creditor – £unspecified
Orient CEO Alessandro Angelieri had said in a court hearing at the end of March that the Italian would inject £1million into the club over the next two months to pay off any outstanding debts.
The club have a high court date for Monday 12th June 2017. This is a winding up order and will determine if Leyton Orient FC become insolvent.
Leyton Orient have already survived legally as a company recently when they had striking-off notice against them from companies house. This means they would have been defunct as a company.
The club have to file their accounts which are already three months late of the March 31st deadline. Companies House have since discontinued this striking-off action.
Will He Sell The Club?
Francesco Becchetti looks as if he is actively trying to sell the club he bought for £4million in July 2014. A statement by the club in January also told how he had rejected one bid for the club but is willing to listen to other offers.
At the start of May Sky Sports reported that their was one interested buyer who was not put off by the clubs relegation.
This interest then lead to Becchetti supposedly meeting two potential buyers at the end of May according to the East London Advertiser.
Former West Ham player Alan Bowers bid £3.3 million for the club recently but withdrew his offer this week after Francesco Becchetti didn’t respond to his deadline.
Worst Comes To Worst?
In a last resort a pheonix team would be created in the name of Leyton Orient should the club be wound up. A Leyton Orient Supporters Group named ‘LOFT’ say they are already prepared to start a new club should this happen.
In the event that Leyton Orient do reform, are demoted a few leagues, or are liquidated then the most likely candidate to be reprieved from National League relegation are York City FC who missed out on survival on the last day of the 2016/17 season by a point.
Most York fans have already put on record however that they do not want Leyton Orient to disappear.
York City fan Jamie Scarborough mentioned on twitter:
No York fan wants orient to go bust. We were nearly there ourselves.
— Jamie Scarborough (@jimycfc1) June 7, 2017
Scarborough referring to when current owner Jason McGill helped to save the club in a similar scenario in 2004.
The ‘Leyton Orient Fans Trust’ (LOFT) have come out and said that they will try to take
over the club in administration should a buyer not be found in before the high court date.
Should Leyton Orient not be able to pay their debts on June 12th then ‘LOFT’ will apply for administration which would put accountants in control of the football club. Their first priority under the ‘Football Creditors Rule‘ will be to pay staff/player wages and transfer fees to other clubs first.
Clubs who have entered administration recently are the likes of Coventry City in 2013 and Port Vale in 2012. Both of these teams were deducted points and this lies a real possibility for Leyton Orient in the National League next season.
Other clubs in administration have not had it so easy such as Rushden and Diamonds when they were liquidated after months of being in administration. These teams have both emerged as phoenix clubs are are working their way back up the footballing pyramid in non-league.
Personally as a York City fan I would hate to see Leyton Orient go into liquidation and I want to put on record that I think it certainly wouldn’t be right for York City to be reprieved if it did happen. The club don’t deserve it and I think I speak on behalf of the fans when I say it wouldn’t feel justified.
What do you think of the whole Leyton Orient situation? Are you an O’s fan? I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts in the comments below or on twitter by tweeting me!