Fans' Forum reconvenes
One of the initiatives started during Matt Porter's time as CEO was the Leyton Orient Fans' Forum, whereby representatives from LOFT, the Supporters Club and the two main O's fanzines (the Leyton Orientear and Pandamonium) met regularly with Matt to discuss matters affecting supporters.
In the immediate aftermath of the club takeover by Francesco Becchetti, these four groups put together a document explaining the Forum and its members. This was sent to the club with a view to reconvening the Forum under the new club ownership.
The first meeting of the Fans' Forum since the takeover took place last Friday 26th September; the minutes of this meeting are below. At the meeting, the fans' representatives requested that Matt Porter continue as Supporter Liaison Officer for this season, but following the news that that he has resigned from the Football Club Board at the request of Mr Becchetti, Matt has let us know it wouldn't be possible for him to remain as SLO either.
The Forum representatives will urgently and collectively contact the Club's CEO to get a new SLO appointed, and pass on the outstanding historical Fans' Forum items for progression/closure.
Matt's resignation from the Club Board is sad on a number of levels, not least because of the way he engaged with supporters during his time as CEO. LOFT was founded at least in part due to the lack of two-way communication between Club and fans, and LOFT is not alone in worrying that the bond between the Club and supporters has been weakened in recent weeks.
Mr Becchetti's stated aim is to take an already well-run Club and make it even better, and we hope that that aim also extends to the relationship with O's fans.
Finally, LOFT would like to place on record its appreciation to Matt Porter for everything he has done in his time as CEO. To say that Alessandro Angelieri has a hard act to follow is an understatement in the extreme.
Fans' Forum meeting - Brisbane Road, Friday 26th September, 1pm
Alessandro Angelieri (CEO, Leyton Orient)
Mauro Milanese (Sporting Director, Leyton Orient)
Matt Porter (Director, Leyton Orient)
Doug Harper (Chairman, Leyton Orient Fans' Trust)
James Cassidy (Vice-Chairman, Leyton Orient Fans' Trust)
Tim Hayden (Committee Member, Leyton Orient Supporters Club)
Keren Harrison (Membership Secretary, Leyton Orient Supporters Club)
Jim Nichols (Editor, Leyton Orientear Fanzine)
Mat Roper (Editor, Pandamonium Fanzine) - minute taker
David Dodd (Chairman, Leyton Orient Supporters Club)
Tony Roome (Committee Member, Leyton Orient Supporters Club)
- Questions from the Club about our introductory document & our roles
- Discuss fan communication / representation requirements e.g. board representative and further Fans' Forum meetings
- Get an outline of spending plans, ambitions and location of the club
- Get a commitment that community initiatives will continue
- Get a commitment for regular communication to the supporters from Francesco Becchetti, Alessandro Angelieri & Mauro Milanese
- Get a commitment that the “voluntary” LOFC AGM will continue
- Any other business
Before the meeting started, it was explained that Mauro Milanese had been invited to assist with translation for CEO Alessandro for whom English is not his first language but is learning at a fast pace.
Following introductions, James Cassidy took the lead in going through our agenda for the day.
- Questions from the new CEO on our introductory document (which basically dealt with previous fans' representation, the reasoning behind the Fans' Forum, who attended and what was generally discussed): This document had been emailed to Alessandro and Matt Porter a few weeks prior to the meeting taking place [a copy of the Introductory Document is available to supporters via any Fans' Forum rep].
Alessandro said he had read the document and could find no problems or had any burning questions arising from it.
- Regarding possible fan representation on the new board and the proposal for regular and continuing Fans' Forum meetings as had been taking place with previous CEO Matt Porter chairing:
It was explained to both Alessandro and Mauro that the previous fan representative on the board was David Dodd. This was an unpaid role. Both Alessandro and Mauro thought this a good idea but would obviously have to get an agreement from the President, Mr Becchetti. This will be put to him in due course.
With regards to further Fans' Forum meetings, again both declared a strong interest for this to continue and that, in their words, “we wish to be transparent” in their dealings with supporters. Mauro stated that presidents go, managers go, players go but the supporters will always remain. It would appear from today’s meeting that Alessandro very much wishes for further regular meetings to take place and for them to be attended, at the moment, by various representatives of the four “organisations” (Fans' Trust, Supporters Club, Leyton Orientear & Pandamonium Fanzine).
- Spending and ambitions for the club as well as location:
Location for the club was not discussed however it was presented to us that Mr Becchetti is very ambitious and wants to see us in the Championship sooner rather than later. The income and spending is in place and the new owner has already committed an extra £1.3m to the playing budget for the 2014/2015 season.
It was explained again by both Matt Porter and Mauro Milanese that there are financial fair play rules evoked by the Football League (known as the 60% rule by most) in which no League 1 club can spend more than 60% of its turnover on players’ salaries, and we are no different.
Mauro also confirmed that Mr Becchetti had made just as much a lifestyle choice to move to London as to buying a football club and is committed to his aims. He has purchased a house in London and moved both his wife and children and parents to the house.
With regards to future spending plans Mauro stated there will be no further player purchases beyond emergency cover for the moment but that Mr Becchetti would be prepared to further his investment if we make the right moves within the league.
- Matt Porter confirmed that community initiatives will continue. Howard Gould does a splendid job and spends 50% of his time at the club and 50% of his time with the club's community side of the business, however this is not funded by Leyton Orient and is a stand alone organisation.
Howard continues to build good relations with local schools, colleges and clubs and all at the table agreed that this was an important aspect of the club’s off the field activities.
- Just as with Fans' Forums, it was agreed that Mr Becchetti, Alessandro Angelieri and Mauro Milanese will very much attempt to uphold regular communication with the club's fans through the normal channels. It was agreed that the representatives would be happy to help with that by communicating through their normal channels also (see below):
Supporters Club (Newsletters (mail and email), Website, Twitter and Facebook)
LOFT (Social media outlets, website, email group)
Leyton Orientear Fanzine (Fanzine publication, website, Twitter)
Pandamonium Fanzine (Fanzine publication, Facebook page, Twitter)
Recent communications from the club were discussed and it was imparted that the club's lawyer had translated two recent communications for Mr Becchetti’s programme notes and website announcements. Both Alessandro and Mauro said they were trying their hardest to convey the correct wording of addresses to fans and to bear with them. All representatives, as well as Matt Porter agreed to help as and when necessary.
- No commitment could be given at this time regarding continuing to hold the “voluntary” LOFC company AGM and this would be a decision that could only be taken by company owner Mr Becchetti. The suggestion would be relayed to him in due course for his answer.
- AOB – No other fans' representation matters arising. It was confirmed the rumoured TV documentary was a win-a-contract programme, with a film crew shadowing two young Italian hopefuls at the club and around London. As both the Italian TV channel and LOFC are owned by Mr Becchetti, it is extremely unlikely that the club or its staff would be shown in a bad light. Other informal discussions about the current events at the club were off-the-record.