This page will be updated once the fate of the funds raised - £179,610 as at fund closure on 13 July 2017 - is known. This will be once we have received expert legal counsel's opinion on using the fund within the members' mandate.
Until then, this page states the historic background to the fund.
Update - 07/12/17: please see the write-up of the 2017 AGM where the legal issues around use or otherwise of the Regeneration Fund were set out.
LOFT launched the Leyton Orient Regeneration Fund on 2 March 2017, with an initial target of £250,000 to be used in one of a number of scenarios.
Back in March, Leyton Orient Football Club faced an uncertain future. Its then owner, Francesco Becchetti, had indicated he was willing to sell, but the level of debt at the club meant that administration, or even liquidation, could not be ruled out.
Despite Becchetti's cutting of the playing squad, there was a very real risk that he would simply stop covering the losses the club was making. Indeed, that seemed to have happened, following the announcement on 1 March that a winding-up petition had been served on the club. Even though that petition was adjourned until 12 June and the tax bill to HMRC paid, the debt to trade creditors remained in our estimation a significant six-figure sum.
And after setting up the fund, staff and player wages went unpaid for weeks.
While the best solution to Leyton Orient's situation was for Becchetti to sell the club as a going concern to a new owner, which eventually is what happened, LOFT's remit as a supporters' trust meant that we had to plan for the worst. To that end, LOFT members passed a resolution on 2 March 2017, approving the setting up of the Leyton Orient Regeneration Fund with an initial target of £250,000.
The fund would be used to help regenerate Leyton Orient FC (or, in the event of liquidation of the club, a successor ‘phoenix club’) in the following scenarios:
- Negotiated sale of the club involving LOFT
The proposed uses of the Fund are set out in the Fund proposal document - note that the initial proposal was for a target of £100k, but our members voted to set a higher target. Note that we were not raising money to pay the debts for Mr Becchetti while he remained in charge - this fund is to try and secure a better future for the club after he leaves, which was beyond doubt as being in the best interests of the club.
All donations received (net of any charges levied by PayPal or GoFundMe) will utlimately be transferred to a separate bank account held by LOFT. The fund will be maintained by LOFT until such time as it is needed for one of the above scenarios and as explained in the Fund proposal document.
Now that Mr Becchetti has sold the club to a new owner, as stated above we will seek to use the funds raised to aid in the rebuilding of the club within the mandate given by members on 2 March 2017. If the fund is not used, LOFT will review every 12 months whether larger donations should be offered back (minus any processing fees incurred) - larger donations being defined as one-off donations of £100 or more, or standing order contributions of £20 per month or more. Note that this term was added after the original proposal document was published.
LOFT's Board held such a review prior to the 2017 AGM and concluded that the fund could not be used at that time without the option of increasing supporter ownership of the club (which would by definition be through increasing supporter share ownership). The meeting voted against a resolution to offer refunds to those who donated larger amounts. The effect of this isn't to say there can never be refunds offered, rather that for now the position is to maintain the fund balance as it is until the legal advice referred to above has been procured.
Updates on the progress of the fund will be posted on this page and on our Twitter account.