Club sale raises many questions
When LOFT was formed in 2001, it was at a time when the club's engagement with the supporters was at an all-time low. The conversation was strictly one-way, the club in broadcast mode only, and the prospect of a Fans' Forum where the club actually listened to supporters' opinions (and acted on them where it could) was just a faint hope.
Indeed, LOFT's first formal interaction with the club - sponsorship of a match - saw the club manage not to print our name on the programme cover!
Now, come the day that Barry Hearn has sold his shareholding in Leyton Orient to Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti, much has changed for the better. The past season wasn't just a success on the pitch (albeit without the end result we all craved), it showed how much could be achieved when we all stood up for the Orient and pulled in the same direction.
While much of the spotlight will fall on the change in club ownership, it should not be under-estimated how much of that positive change in recent years has been down to the club's now-former Chief Executive, Matt Porter. Whatever one's opinion of Hearn's near-20 years as chairman, there can be no questioning that one of his best decisions was putting Matt in charge, and whoever takes up the role next has a tough act to follow.
Change naturally brings uncertainty, and the fear of many O's fans is that at least some of the progress made will be lost. In particular, the main questions yet to be answered (aside from on-pitch matters outside LOFT's remit) are:
- With the ownership of Brisbane Road apparently being retained by Matchroom Sports, what does this mean in terms of Leyton Orient's tenancy of its home and the payment of rent that now becomes due?
- With the resignation of supporters club chairman David Dodd as director of the football club, what does this mean in terms of supporter representation at the board level?
- Now that Matt Porter is longer Chief Executive, what will happen with the Fans' Forum and who will be the club's Supporter Liaison Officer?
- Will Mr Becchetti pledge not to change the fundamental aspects of the football club (its name, its club badge, where it plays football, etc.) without consultation with supporters?
We look forward to hearing what Mr Becchetti has to say at his first press conference in a few days' time, and we hope to be able to meet with him at the earliest opportunity.