Rally for the Orient / Judgement Day 3 / Wages
LOFT has organised a protest rally to take place pre-match on the last home game of this season, to be held at the bandstand in Coronation Gardens at 1:30pm on Saturday 29 April.
Barring a footballing miracle in the next few games, the day will almost certainly mark the end of an unbroken 112-year sequence of Orient home matches played in the Football League.
LOFT has therefore organised a rally to allow supporters to come together on that day and send a collective message of hope for the future. Whether Francesco Becchetti remains in charge of the club by then or not – and the future remains in limbo as things stand – we want to send a clear message from all Orient fans:
Namely, that this does not mark the end of Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road. That we, the fans, will not let our football club die. And that no matter what the inaction of the football authorities in what is happening at Leyton Orient, this club will go on and recover because it is the fans' club.
Leyton MP (and LOFT external director) John Cryer will be there to talk about his attempts to secure Parliamentary debate over the lack of football governance that has allowed owners like Becchetti to remain in place. We will also be joined by incoming Waltham Forest council leader Cllr Claire Coghill, who has kindly stood in for current leader Chris Robbins who now can't make it - Chris has also been very supportive of our efforts to secure a change of club ownership.
We also hope to have some live music for you, and the Leyton Food Market will be open alongside for food and drink. The rally should last no more than 30-60 minutes so we hope to see as many O’s fans as possible!
Judgement Day 3
The last day of the season, Saturday 6 May, sees Leyton Orient travel to Blackpool. Our friends at the Blackpool Supporters' Trust, together with the Football Supporters' Federation, are hosting a day of action against the game's unpopular owners.
Called 'Judgement Day 3', fans from across the country will gather for a Fans United day to protest on behalf of 'crisis-clubs' against inadequate governance within UK football.
It is fitting that the day of action is marked by Blackpool vs Orient fixture – two clubs whose supporters joined each other to march and protest against their respective 'unsuitable owners' at Brisbane Road earlier in the season.
The day is divided into three parts :
STEP 1 : THE MARCH : congregate at 3.30pm @ Blackpool Pleasure Beach for a march (4pm) and rally at Bloomfield Road (5pm).
STEP 2 : THE ALTERNATIVE FOOTBALL MATCH : depart from Bloomfield Road at 5:30pm (buses supplied) for AFC BLACKPOOL for a Crisis-Clubs Match (6:30pm K.O.) between an Ex-Blackpool XI vs ex-Orient / London XI.
STEP 3 : THE AFTERSHOW : The Shovels from 8pm onwards right across the road from AFC Blackpool. Eat, drink and get merry to a fine blend of Northern Soul and live protest music.
While many Orient fans will want to watch the 'official' Blackpool vs Leyton Orient fixture, given its significance as likely the last League match for Orient for at least a season, we hope that as many O's fans as possible support the other events on Judgement Day 3, particularly given BST's support for our cause back in November (and since).
Further details about the day are on the FSF website.
Players and staff remain unpaid
All Orient supporters are no doubt aware of the disgraceful fact that, at the time of writing, the players and staff have still not been paid their March wages. It has been reported that the players' union – the PFA – has loaned the players half of their basic salary for March.
LOFT fully understands the emotional response among fans to the staff in particular not being paid, given that they do not have the support of a union in the way players do. We as a Board are just as angry at their treatment, but we cannot consider using the Regeneration Fund to pay them in any way.
The Regeneration Fund cannot and will not be used under any circumstances to prop up Francesco Becchetti's ownership of the football club, through paying for or subsidising any unpaid bills. It would be a betrayal of the members' vote to set up the fund, where this was expressly ruled out, and it would also be a betrayal to all the fans – both Orient's and other clubs' supporters – who have donated to the fund in their thousands on that basis.
Even using the fund to loan money to the staff (even if the fund terms allowed that, which they don't) would not help the situation. It is the LOFT Board's view that even that would relieve some of the mounting pressure on Becchetti to pay them, and could easily create a situation where staff owe money to the fund that they may face difficulty in repaying if the crisis at the club continues.
Indeed, such a difficulty was alluded to by the staff themselves in a statement they released to the press earlier today, namely that as a result of the PFA loans to players, "the players now have a debt hanging over their heads of which they remain unsure as to when, or even if, they can repay the amount given to them".
So while it is difficult, we ask that all Orient supporters continue to support us in not using the Regeneration Fund for anything other than what it was voted for – namely to regenerate the Football Club in a post-Becchetti scenario. We are doing what we can to support the staff and are in continual contact with them.
All members should shortly receive an email with the latest newsletter, rounding up recent events including the content in this website article. Please email Mark Dunn, the membership secretary, if you don't receive this and can't find it in your spam folder.
As we said in the Q&As accompanying our last newsletter, we cannot be certain of what approaches have been made to Francesco Becchetti to buy the club, though we are aware of at least one serious approach. We as a Board will not be commenting on speculation around the identity and progress of any such approaches.
What we can say is that we have been working on a business plan to show how the Regeneration Fund could be used to help the current club recover from the damage caused by Francesco Becchetti’s destructive ownership, as and when he leaves. We are also planning with our legal team for all eventualities around scenarios whereby Becchetti cannot or will not sell the club, as then an administration order would have to be sought to avoid the club going into liquidation.
In summary, we can assure all Orient supporters that every effort is being made by LOFT's Board to avoid the current Leyton Orient Football Club Ltd going into liquidation, and that reforming as a 'phoenix club' is a situation we are not actively planning for – we want to save the current club, simple as that.