Leyton Orient Fans' Trust call on Francesco Becchetti to sell League Two outfit and it looks like he will
PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:08 09 January 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
The signs suggest Italian is ready to listen to offers for Brisbane Road club, but a change of ownership isn't going to happen overnight
Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust have called for president Francesco Becchetti to sell the Brisbane Road club and the signs suggest the Italian is looking to do so.
The O’s suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Barnet on Saturday to drop to 21st in the League Two table and just four points above the relegation zone.
Andy Edwards revealed after the game some of his transfer targets for January have already gone to other clubs.
Orient’s manager also admitted he was unsure whether or not he would be given funds to work with this month despite O’s sitting just above the bottom two.
LOFT released a statement on Sunday asking the Italian to sell the east Londoners and highlighted the alleged debt at the club, which read: “The Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust is calling for the owner of Leyton Orient, Francesco Becchetti, to do what’s best for the club’s future – put it up for sale.
“LOFT organised a protest just over a month ago, calling for Becchetti to either commit to changing the way he runs the club, or to put the club up for sale.
“His reaction has been to withdraw from sight and to seemingly give up on the club. This contrasts completely with his various statements in the past on his ‘passion’ at helping Orient succeed.”
The Fans’ Trust went on to highlight the statement made by O’s president when he first took over in the summer of 2014.
LOFT’s statement continued: “Becchetti also said at the time (of his takeover) that it ‘was difficult to find a team whose accounts are in order – we did not want to settle other peoples’ debts’ – and yet the club is now saddled with an eye-watering debt of around £10m to other companies in his group.
“It is clear now that Becchetti’s ‘project’ has not worked out, and that his ownership is now a hindrance to the wellbeing of the playing side of the club. That Jay Simpson is yet again ‘unavailable’ for selection appears to show that the manager still does not have full control of team affairs.
“LOFT called for, among other things, a manager who is allowed to do his job unhindered, and a sensible and consistent transfer and wages policy with the manager having the last word on transfers.
“Instead it appears that Andy Edwards’ hands are being tied and that he is being prevented from doing all that’s sensibly possible to retain the club’s League status.
“Since Becchetti still refuses to hold a shareholders’ meeting, to meet with LOFT or any other supporter representatives to seek a better way forward under his ownership, or to give any indication at all that he remains committed to his ‘project’ at Leyton Orient, it is time for him to do what’s best for the club; formally put it up for sale, to give the club every possible chance of survival, let alone progress.”
LOFT also added they continue to look for a potential buyer should Becchetti walk away and will provide a further update when they can.
It does seem the Italian is willing to now sell Orient with the notes of Leyton Orient Fans’ Forum on December 8 suggesting the O’s may have had brief discussion with potential buyers.
Under the heading, financial matters, chief operating officer (COO) Vito Miceli revealed the club hadn’t had any “concrete offers from potential investors”.
The notes read: “It was confirmed that the investments in Leyton Orient had come in the form of inter-company loans between companies within Mr Becchetti’s group.
“Fans’ reps asked what effect these loans would have on any sale of LOFC by Mr Becchetti. COO explained that he assumed provision for loans would form a part of the negotiations in the event of any discussions of a sale – though there are currently no concrete offers from potential investors to buy the club.
“In response to a question, the club confirmed that this funding was in line with the Financial Fair Play rules. The club is not yet able to provide an estimate of the full year losses for 2015-16.”
The comment by Miceli that Orient have not currently received any concrete offers from potential investors to buy the club suggests preliminary talks may have taken place.
Meanwhile since LOFT’s protest on November 19, Becchetti hasn’t been present at any O’s matches and instead preferred to stay at home.
It is understood the only direct conversation that has taken place between the Italian and Edwards since he was given the job permanently was to offer him the role.
Orient’s current manager has since had to speak with Miceli and head of recruitment Rob Gagliardi to get his message relayed to Becchetti.
With Edwards believed to have no funds to spend in January and the club listening to offers on Simpson, it appears O’s are trying to recuperate as much money as possible.
The aforementioned list makes you believe Becchetti is willing to sell Orient, but any change of ownership is not going to happen overnight.
It is generally a long process and while fans may welcome the move, it means the current manager will not be given a chance to boost the squad this month.
With several injury problems and a number of players seemingly not up to the task, Edwards could do with bringing in some fresh faces, but looks set to work with what he has got and that’s a concern.
Leyton Orient have been contacted for a response, but have declined to comment.