Protests as club is relegated from Football League for first time in 112 years
Fans and supporters of Leyton Orient have now raised more than £150,000 for a ‘regeneration fund’ aimed at saving the crisis-hit football club, said to be more than £10million in debt.
Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust (LOFT) is now well over halfway to meeting its £250,000 target for the fund ahead of a court hearing on 12th June that could see the club being liquidated.
Since Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti bought Leyton Orient three years ago the club has had 11 managers and been relegated twice – a 3-0 defeat to Crewe Alexandra last month confirmed relegation from the Football League for the first time in its history.
As part of its fundraising efforts, aimed at “securing a better future for the club after Becchetti leaves”, LOFT is organising a ‘Lingy’s Legends vs Supporters’ charity match on 20th May. Orient Outlook, another fans’ group, has also been auctioning signed shirts donated by former players to help boost the fund.
A LOFT spokesman said: “Other donations coming in have helped us surge past £150,000 and keep going – with the proceeds of Orient Outlook’s auctions and whatever we raise on at the Lingy’s Legends vs Supporters match to come.
“While the best solution to Leyton Orient’s situation is for Becchetti to sell the club as a going concern to a new owner, LOFT’s remit as a supporters’ trust means that we have to plan for the worst.”
Recent O’s games have featured protests by fans, including a pitch invasion towards the end of the last home game of the season, against Colchester United, which ended with fans being ushered out of the stadium before the match resumed an hour later in front of an empty stadium. At the final game of the season at Blackpool last Saturday, fans of the two clubs staged a joint protest, with the Seasiders also angry at the ownership of their club.
Becchetti has failed to provide any further information on the state of Orient’s finances since a High Court winding-up hearing in March was adjourned until June. Representatives of the club claim £1million will be invested to both settle outstanding debts and pay staff. March’s wages for O’s staff were delayed by nearly a month.
The charity match on Saturday 20th May will take place at Redbridge FC’s ground, the Oakside Stadium in Barkingside, with kick-off at 2pm. Lingy’s Legends will be an ‘all-star team’ managed by former Orient player and promotion-winning manager Martin Ling, and is set to include ‘Orient greats’ such as Alan Comfort, John Mackie, Dean Cox and Gary Alexander.
To donate to the Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust’s regeneration fund:
To donate to the Leyton Orient staff fund: