I may be new to this blogging scene but I am already writing my 2nd article on the bizarre club that I happen to support, Leyton Orient. For those not in the know, Orient were given a winding-up petition by the taxman last week. A date has been set for March 20th for the club to attend a hearing, which may result in 3 possible options. Option 1: Orient pay the money they owe HMRC and we forget this ever happened. Option 2: Orient attend the meeting, cannot pay the bill, the club goes into administration and all but confirms relegation to non-league for the first time in their history, leaving our very existence in the balance. And Option 3, or as I and many others like to call it ‘The Doomsday Scenario’, no Orient official attends and there is a very real possibility that the club will cease to exist come 11am that morning.
In the meantime, the lack of investment on the pitch has left the club threadbare to say the least, with 6 (Yes, SIX!) players in last week’s match day squad being older than 20 years old. Now that you’ve been caught up with these shenanigans, I am going to have a bit of a rant. Not at the players for their performances, but at the owners for their frankly shambolic mismanagement even by their own standards.
It’s fair to say that the fan-owner relationship with chairman, or as he calls himself, ‘President’ Francesco Becchetti has never really got going from the off. The club has gone from being a kick away from the Championship to at-best barely surviving relegation from the Football League all in the space of 3 years. A section of the fan base this season held a joint protest with Blackpool to voice their concerns about the running of their clubs, and apparently and somewhat unsurprisingly Becchetti was ‘not pleased’ with the protest. But he hasn’t been seen at Orient’s ground for four months! He looks like he isn’t bothered with running the club anymore. He’s never interacted with the fans, has offloaded players without replacing them and hoping the youth players can provide some sort of stability, and now there’s the tax bill. Orient’s survival as a football club is literally in his decision whether to go to the High Court on March 20th, and no one knows his motive.
Is it Becchetti losing interest? Is it Becchetti being spiteful? Was it a genuine paperwork error in submitting the money? We haven’t got a clue what is going on at this club anymore. If he pays the bill and Orient avoid administration, we’re essentially back to square one with Becchetti and everybody is going back on the roller coaster ride of emotions. But would he change at all? Probably not, but we just don’t know with this guy! He said he was willing to sell the club for what he paid for it (Believed to be £4 million). Personally, I wouldn’t pay that for a club on the brink of non-league football, regardless of being in London or not. But an American company is apparently willing to. They’ve contacted the club twice and no one responded to their enquiry!! Does he want to sell? Is he watching the club implode? Again, we haven’t got the faintest idea. I don’t think I’ve ever been this infuriated at Leyton Orient and it has nothing to do with the football, it’s the politics that is really riling me up!
I’d love for Orient to avoid not only administration but also relegation and remain a Football League club, and I know I’m not the only fan with that opinion. But given the frankly ludicrous management recently, I’m starting to doubt this view. Would going into non-league and entering administration actually be a GOOD thing just to get new owners in? It’s obviously a risk as if no one is interested then it’s goodbye Orient forever. But this cannot go on for much longer.