LOFT statements relating to the EFL
LOFT is pleased to note that common sense has prevailed at the EFL, in respect of yesterday's suspension of ticket sales for Saturday's match at Blackpool. It is unfortunate that this could not have been resolved between Blackpool FC and the EFL without causing O's fans 24 hours of worry and anger.
LOFT would like to note that the conditions of eligibility for sale of further tickets to Leyton Orient supporters were not of our asking, nor indeed our suggestion. LOFT was not consulted about this, nor will we be divulging who is and isn't a LOFT member (in line with our Data Protection Act obligations), nor do we take responsibility for any issues as a result of the EFL's criteria for sale.
We feel that no restrictions beyond those which would ordinarily be in place for such a fixture are necessary, nor should it be necessary to restrict the number of tickets available to O's supporters.
Statement regarding pitch invasion protest
Leyton Orient’s final home match of the season was disrupted by a supporter-led protest, when a pitch invasion shortly before the end of the match ultimately led to the game being announced as 'cancelled'. LOFT’s Board fully understands the frustration and anger felt by O’s fans at the club’s situation, which led to this protest taking place.
That the match was completed behind closed doors a short while after its announced 'cancellation' raises serious questions. The EFL's statement on the matter states that "a decision was taken" to announce the game as abandoned, and that "it was deemed appropriate" to then play it to a conclusion. LOFT will be seeking further clarification from the EFL as to how these decisions came about, when and by whom.
The farcical scenes that have emerged of how the remaining minutes of the match were played out, together with the fact that supporters were deliberately misled about the match’s abandonment, certainly do not appear to fit easily with the EFL's stated position around the "integrity" of its competitions.
Statement regarding meeting with the EFL
On Friday 28 April, members of LOFT's board met with EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey and Head of Policy John Nagle, to discuss matters of concern around the current situation at Leyton Orient.
During a wide-ranging discussion on the governance of EFL member clubs and in particular the issues being faced by Leyton Orient, both organisations committed to having open and honest dialogue. The EFL and LOFT are united in wanting to see a speedy resolution to the club's financial issues, which include a winding-up petition due back in court on 12 June.
The EFL stressed, as it has done in public recently, that its role is as a competition organiser, with the management of clubs being a matter for their directors operating within the framework provided by the EFL's regulations, which are intended to provide for fair competition between clubs.
However, LOFT has a number of concerns around whether and how the EFL has exercised its own rules in respect of Leyton Orient. Mr Harvey agreed to consider our specific concerns, which we will detail in writing to him.