Time running out for Becchetti
Leyton Orient are due in court again on 12 June, where the winding-up petition first brought in March will be heard for a determination. There is no indication of planning for next season in any way. Nobody knows who is making decisions about which players are being offered renewed contracts for next season. In all aspects, there remains a huge cloud over our club's future.
At the original winding-up hearing on 20 March, Becchetti promised via letter to inject £1m to pay off creditors within 8 to 10 weeks. That was over 9 weeks ago, meaning he has just days remaining to fulfil that promise.
During those 9 weeks, with the exceptions of HMRC and (after unacceptable delay) the wages for March and April, there has been little or no improvement in the situation with respect to trade creditors being settled. In fact, we have had further creditors come forward to us for assistance in recovering sums due to them.
There is also the matter of the unpaid rent on Brisbane Road, with Barry Hearn stating over 10 days ago that action was about to be taken. The next wages bill is also due to be paid at the end of May.
Becchetti now faces a stark reality – he must sell the club within days, otherwise the situation at the club will get even worse.
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.
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.
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 12 June and we call on all concerned to conclude that deal properly and swiftly.