Leyton women’s football club no longer Orient

The team, formerly Leyton Orient Women FC, has parted ways with The Os, reports Elizabeth Atkin…

The women’s team in their new Invest in Women team kit, courtesy of Adidas

The women’s team formerly known as Leyton Orient Women FC (LOWFC) is no longer operating under the Orient name. 

The women’s club was originally called KIKK United, before it received permission to use the Orient name in 2015 – despite being managed by a separate, not-for-profit organisation. 

For six years, they successfully represented Orient in tier four of the FA’s Women’s Football Pyramid – notably winning the 2018– 19 Isthmian Cup. 

But on 28th April, a statement posted to Leyton Orient FC’s (LOFC) website severed ties – seemingly abruptly – between the two organisations. 

LOFC said it would focus on developing its own lower-level women’s team and manage it internally, as well as create a new girls’ football academy 

It read: “As part of an all-encompassing strategy to develop female football in the area, the club will be launching an academy that in time will include age groups from under 9s to under 18s, mirroring the boys’ academy. 

“This will be supplemented by development centres, college programmes and will lead into a first-team that will compete initially at step six of the pyramid under the direct control of the football club. 

“We would like to place on record our thanks for their [LOWFC] efforts and achievements and wish them every success for the future as an independent organisation.” 

Director of Football Martin Ling added: “This is an exciting time for the development of female football at Leyton Orient. 

“We will be establishing key relationships with local professional and grassroots clubs and hope to make progression at all levels. Whilst we will be initially dropping down within the pyramid, for us there is a bigger long-term picture involving increased activity and opportunities for more players.” 

The women’s team responded in a statement, admitting they were left in “complete shock” by the sudden decision, of which they were informed on 20th April. 

“All of the players, coaches and staff at Leyton Orient Women’s FC are intensely disappointed at the decision of Leyton Orient FC to end its six-year relationship with the women’s team,” their statement read. 

“This decision was communicated… without any prior indication or discussion, so came as a complete shock. LOFC have removed the women’s teams’ ability to play under the Orient name and identity, and have done so… without due consideration for the impact on players and volunteers.” 

The women’s side wrote that they offered LOFC their FA Women’s National League (WNL) tier 4 licence and to “manage the current women’s structure internally” – though say this was rebuffed. 

“LOFC have declined to even consider or discuss this option. This would have enabled LOFC to continue to have WNL teams and provide the new girls’ academy with a clear pathway into a high level of women’s football.” 

Crucially, the decision took place days before an FA deadline of 1st May, which would require the women’s team’s new name to be decided. 

“There was little sympathy for the negative impact of their unilateral decision and the urgent remedial action that it would necessitate,” the statement concluded.

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