LOFT sets out fit and proper Orient test
One of the striking features of the past 3 years of Francesco Becchetti's ownership of Leyton Orient, has been that the FA/EFL 'Owners and Directors Test' is not in any way adequate to test the suitability of a club owner.
Those 3 years have also shown without question that simply having faith in an owner to do the right thing for the club's wellbeing is not sufficient, especially where that owner will not engage with supporters.
It is already clear that the club must change ownership soon in order to move forward and plan for next season. Once that happens, any new owner whoever that may be will have LOFT's initial welcome. That owner must however expect to come under scrutiny from all supporters not just LOFT about their reasons for purchasing Leyton Orient, their intentions and their plans.
Given the way Leyton Orient has been grossly mismanaged since 2014, the Board of LOFT wishes to set out some basic principles that we believe any prospective buyer of the club should be able to commit to, to show that it is 'fit and proper' to own and manage the club in the interests of all supporters.
- Honesty, integrity and reputation - the buyer should have a clear track record of running their businesses honestly and in a clear way, with respect for their clients, suppliers and the wider community
- Competence and capability - the buyer should be able to demonstrate a proven track record of success in running a business of at least comparable size and profile in a sustainable way, to ensure legacy going forward
- Financial soundness - the buyer should be able to demonstrate financial capability such that the club can be run in a competent and competitive manner for the foreseeable future
- Financial openness the buyer should be able to publish the source of their funding, make a commitment to pay all creditors, wages and taxes on time, and not take any money out of the football club
- Meetings the buyer should commit to hold open AGMs with shareholders and regular meetings with supporters, going beyond the minimum requirements
- Representation the buyer should commit to discussing whether and how supporter representation on the board can be achieved
- Location the buyer should commit to keeping the club in the London Borough of Waltham Forest and not to move away from Brisbane Road without full consultation with all supporters
- Heritage the buyer should commit not to change the club's name, home kit colour, badge or other features of the club's identity without full consultation with all supporters
Having suffered the tragic and entirely avoidable decline of their football club in the past 3 years, Orient fans simply will not tolerate another owner whose actions do not match their words. Any new owner who has Leyton Orient's best interests at heart should therefore have no problem committing to the above test of a fit and proper owner of the club.
In contrast to the FA/EFL rules with respect to eligibility, LOFT pledges to remain ever vigilant of how the club is being run, and reserves the right to withhold its support from any buyer who might, for whatever reason, have any of the above brought into question.