Leyton Orient Regeneration Fund
There is an official fund page on our website with other ways to donate; direct transfer or standing order to our bank (both of which carry no fee so we get 100% of your donation) and PayPal.
20/3/17 - the details below have been amended slightly to account for the adjournment until 12 June of the winding-up petition against Leyton Orient Football Club, but otherwise is unchanged from when the campaign was launched on 2 March 2017.
Leyton Orient Football Club is a professional football club based in Leyton, east London. It is London's second oldest such club, formed in 1881. For much of its life it has managed to survive in the shadow of much bigger London clubs - Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham are all near-neighbours - and is often referred to as Londoners' second-favourite club.
It has a reputation as a small, friendly, family club - but it faces an uncertain future.
Sold to Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti in July 2014, just after the club missed out on promotion back to the Championship for the first time in over 30 years, Leyton Orient has since suffered a dramatic decline.
The club faces relegation out of the Football League for the first time in its 112 years in the league, and while it appears Mr Becchetti is willing to sell, the reported asking price may put off potential buyers due to the level of debt he has built up during his ownership. Some £10m+ is now owed by the club to the holding company that owns the majority of shares.
And on 1 March 2017, it was announced that the club faced a winding-up petition. Although that petition has now been adjourned until 12 June, the club remains in danger. The club's former chairman Barry Hearn has admitted that selling the club to Becchetti was "an absolute disaster".
The recent situation at the club has been widely reported in the media, including the BBC, Guardian newspaper and various others such as the Sun and Daily Mail.
We are the Leyton Orient Fans' Trust (LOFT), an independent supporters' trust representing hundreds of O's fans. Before the winding-up petition we were so concerned for the future of the club that we started planning for the worst. To that end, LOFT members passed a resolution on 2 March 2017, approving the setting up of the Leyton Orient Regeneration Fund.
The fund would be used to help regenerate Leyton Orient (or, in the event of liquidation of the club, a successor ‘phoenix club’) in the following scenarios:
Negotiated sale of the club involving LOFT
If LOFT (either on its own or as part of a consortium) were to enter into agreement to buy the club from the current owner, all or part of the fund would be used to secure a supporter-owned (or part-owned) Leyton Orient FC.
If Leyton Orient FC enters into administration, all or part of the fund would be used by LOFT (either on its own or as part of a consortium) to purchase the club from the Administrator and/or to pay off any Creditors as defined by the rules of the League that the club plays in.
If Leyton Orient FC is liquidated, all or part of the fund would be used – following a vote to reform a phoenix club – to assure the viability of such a club. For example: purchasing any club assets from the liquidator (whether physical, or intellectual property such as the club badge); securing the use of a stadium and any training facilities; covering any costs of setting up a new club; covering any operating loss in the first year(s) of operation.
This fund has an initial target amount of £250,000 – a figure decided on by our members as it was the reported amount of debt that prompted the winding-up petition. Please note that we are not raising money to pay the debts for Mr Becchetti while he remains in charge - this fund is to try and secure a better future for the club after he leaves, which is now beyond doubt as being in the best interests of the club.
LOFT believes this is an achievable initial target, given that it has received several thousand pounds in unsolicited donations from members in recent months. If we reach that target then it gives us a sizeable fund to try and secure the club's future - and if we pass that target then we'll aim even higher so that we can do even more to protect the club we love.
The fund will be maintained by LOFT until such time as it is needed for one of the above scenarios. If Mr Becchetti sells the club to a new owner without LOFT needing to be involved, then LOFT will review every 12 months whether larger donations should be offered back (minus any processing fees incurred) - larger donations being defined as one-off donations of £100 or more, or standing order contributions of £20 per month or more.
Please note that the total on this page is updated regularly with the totals of funds received directly or by other means.
Why Leyton Orient matters
Leyton Orient is a unique football club; in a country full of Towns, Citys and Uniteds, there is only one Orient.
Photo by kind permission of Dave Winter
Leyton Orient has a rich and proud history; the signing up en masse to the Footballers' Battalion in the First World War (and the ultimate sacrifices some of its players made in that conflict); its promotion for the only time to the top division in 1962; its run in the FA Cup that saw it reach the semi-final in 1978; its dramatic promotion to League One in the final minutes of the season in 2006; its record-breaking season in 2014 that ended in heartache. All these and more.
Photo by kind permission of Dave Winter
Leyton Orient deserves to be run properly again, with its values of community and family at the forefront. We Want Our Club Back!
Thank you for reading. Thank you even more if you help us to save the Orient by contributing.
Up the O's!
The fund total we have been reporting so far is before those fees are taken off, so in theory the fund total would have gone down slightly once that transfer goes through.
However, funds received by PayPal and into the bank account in the past week more than offset those fees - we estimate that as at today (27/3/17) the actual fund total after GoFundMe's charges is around £116,000.
We will update the live fund total on GoFundMe once the transfer goes through later this week, but thought you all would want to know that current state of play.
Understandably, the fund has slowed up in terms of donations, following the adjournment of the winding-up petition against Leyton Orient until 12 June. Everyone seems to be taking a collective pause for breath, while we wait to see if Francesco Becchetti's promises to the court are worth the paper they were written on. And with Comic Relief last week, understandably people's donating attentions have been elsewhere.
Fundraising does continue apace though; various ex-Orient players have donated memorabilia to us for auction, which our friends at the Orient Outlook podcast - https://twitter.com/OrientOutlook - are auctioning with all proceeds going to the fund. There are comedy gigs and music gigs also being arranged with the fund as the beneficiary - see http://www.songkick.com/concerts/29546184 for details of the 'Save the Orient' music night at Ye Olde Rose & Crown in Walthamstow on 1 April, featuring Attila the Stockbroker and Steve White & the Protest Family.
And not to forget, various individuals are raising money too through auctions and the like.
Our Twitter feed - https://twitter.com/LOFansTrust - remains the best place to see the latest fundraising efforts, but we'll continue to regularly round up fundraising news on here.
Finally for now, our sincere thanks to the players and clubs who have donated various memorabilia for auction, our fellow supporters' trusts for their messages of support and financial donations to the fund (particularly Northampton Town's trust for their generous donation), and to all the football fans all over the world of varying allegiances who have donated. This truly is a football family.
Up the O's!
For those that haven't seen, today was the day of the winding-up hearing at the High Court. The adjournment until 12 June means that the club remains in the same limbo that it has been in since we first planned this fund; a significant six-figure debt owed to creditors - one that is bound to go up as further tax becomes due, even though the last bill has been paid - with no clear sign as to whether Francesco Becchetti will do what pretty much every Orient fans wants him to do, namely sell the club.
For a report of the hearing, please visit our website: http://www.leytonorientfanstrust.com/story.asp?storyChosen=434
This fund therefore remains just as necessary as it was before; none of the three scenarios (managed sale of the club, administration or liquidation) can be ruled out, all are still on the table as the eventual outcome.
Thank you all again for your support for this fund, it is really appreciated as we continue the fight to #SaveOrient
Up the O's!
Thank you so much to all the bucket shakers and organisers for both the Grimsby game and the midweek away match at Accrington, and the fans of all those teams and more who are sending us their good wishes and their contributions to this fund.
Next Monday, the winding-up petition against Leyton Orient will be heard in the High Court. After then we hope there will be a clearer idea as to which of the possible scenarios the club faces - we are doing all we can with our legal team to make sure it isn't liquidation.
Just to be clear though, the fund will carry on whether or not Francesco Becchetti pays this tax bill or not. We are not raising funds to pay his bills for him, to reward his mistakes as owner; we are raising funds to help set a better future for the club with the fans' interests at its heart - whichever of the scenarios we've set out comes to pass.
Up the O's!
With the past couple of days' banking, the fund now stands at nearly £65,000! Thank you all!
Please keep spreading the word...
Keith Hamilton £100 to LOFT bank a/c. 'We will return'.