Leyton Orient Fans' Trust will not allow Leyton Orient to suffer liquidation on June 12
PUBLISHED: 09:23 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:23 25 May 2017
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Fans' Trust reveal they will push for administration in the High Court if Francesco Becchetti is still owner of the club and hasn't fulfilled his promises
Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust have insisted they will not let the club be liquidated in the High Court on June 12 and will make an application for administration if they have to.
The O’s are due back in court next month after staving off a winding-up petition on March 20 over an unpaid tax bill to HM Revenue and Customs, which has now been settled.
Orient chairman Francesco Becchetti, via a letter on March 20, promised to inject £1 million to pay off further creditors within eight to 10 weeks, but as of yet, that hasn’t been the case.
LOFT have also had other creditors come forward and Barry Hearn revealed recently that the rent on Brisbane Road was unpaid.
With O’s set to face a second winding-up petition shortly, LOFT have come up with a plan for June 12.
“Becchetti now faces a stark reality – he must sell the club within days, otherwise the situation at the club will get even worse,” read a LOFT statement.
“If serious bidders for the club are being frustrated in their attempts to complete a purchase, this potentially leaves the club in the invidious position whereby on 12 June, the creditor position is worse, promises made by the owner to pay the creditors remain unfulfilled, yet potential bidders that could save the club would be unable to take a position to pay the creditors.
“This would potentially leave the court with no option but to order the winding up of the club.
“In view of this, as a last resort, in the event that the club is not in new hands by the hearing on 12 June, LOFT will make an application on that date for administration.
“The Regeneration Fund is now in a position whereby LOFT could afford to pay administrators, and given that, in our judgement, there is at least one serious buyer, we will have no hesitation in using our standing with the court that comes from Powers of Attorney from creditors and shareholders to make this application, in order that the club’s liquidation is averted.”
LOFT expressed their understanding that forcing administration could have a lasting effect on the club for the 2017/18 season.
But in the long-run, to ensure Becchetti finally leaves Orient, it is a sacrifice which is worth taking.
“This course of action is desperate and very much a last resort. It raises the prospect of a points deduction and a variety of potential sanctions from the National League. Indeed, it could shape the club’s future for many years to come,” continued LOFT’s statement.
“However, LOFT’s board is united and unanimous that administration would be preferable to both the current paralysis at the club, and to the alternative of liquidation and having to reform as a phoenix club; an option that, while we are prepared for it, remains very much the scenario of last resort.
“In an administration, we would also look to use our position to work with the administrator to undertake a full investigation into the financial management of the club over the last three years.
“In the event that any evidence of negligence or wrongdoing were to come to light, we would seek recourse to the full extent of the law.
“Leyton Orient can only move forwards as a football club once a change of club ownership takes place and it is entirely right that we should attempt to seek an end to the current situation for the club’s fans, creditors, minority shareholders, and other stakeholders.
“It is clearly in everyone’s best interest that a deal is completed before the hearing on June 12 and we call on all concerned to conclude that deal properly and swiftly.”
With two separate groups interested in buying Orient, the hope will be that a deal to sell the club can be concluded before June 12, but if it isn’t, it is encouraging to know LOFT will be ready for whatever is set to occur in the High Court.