The most wretched era in the history of Leyton Orient Football Club is over.
Francesco Becchetti, under whose three-year ownership the club was relegated twice and brought to the brink of being liquidated, has finally sold up.
The new owner is lifelong fan and fast food entreprenuer Nigel Travis, chief executive of the company that operates Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.
Orient will now be run by a new business consortium led by Nigel, called Eagle Investments 2017 Limited. The businessman, who grew up in Leyton, said: “I have been a passionate Leyton Orient supporter for my entire life and feel a great sense of responsibility to the players, the staff, the fans, and the community.
“We have challenges in front of us, and I am not under-estimating those. However, over the long-term, we believe we can return the club to the Football League.”
Francesco Becchetti wished the club well and said he was leaving it debt-free, but also admitted that he hadn’t “been able to dedicate” himself to Orient in the way he had wanted.
Fans have reacted with universal joy at the news that the Becchetti era is now over. Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust, which led an enormous fundraising campaign that eventually raised more than £175,000 for the regeneration of the club, issued a statement on its website: “The past three years have been without question the worst extended period in Leyton Orient’s history.
“The damage inflicted by Francesco Becchetti may take years, maybe even a decade or longer, to recover from. The club must never again be laid low by such irresponsible unaccountable ownership.
“The only silver lining to the very large cloud has been the response of Orient supporters to their club being run down. The incredible backing given to the management and players in clear adversity brought to mind the fantastic atmosphere of the 2013/14 play-off season. The fans’ support proved time and again that this is a special club worth saving.
“The response of supporters around the world has at times been overwhelming. The generosity of those who gave their time and money to support our efforts and, unbidden, donated items to auction for the fund, has been almost immeasurable. We can never thank everyone enough for their support, but we’ll try anyway – for now, thank you!”