Great little club are Leyton Orient. During the mid 70’s and 80’s when I first started going to Charlton we played them regularly and my family and I would always make the short journey across the river. We were there for the abandoned game in 1978. The game was called off at half-time and the tannoy system was so bad that the crowd only found out by word of mouth. We went back for the re-arranged game which had been postponed again and was pushed back 24 hours to see us avoid relegation by the skins of our teeth.
In 2014 The O’s were a penalty kick away from playing in The Championship and then Barry Hearn sold the club to Francesco Becchetti, who walked the EFL’s fit and proper test because he had money and ambition. Sadly what Becchetti also had was not one clue of how to run a football club. As Barry Hearn said: “But no one could have foreseen the level of ineptitude when it comes to management. You can’t do due diligence on whether he is a nutter!” Sound familiar?
Last weekend’s defeat at Crewe saw The O’s drop out of the football league for the first time since they joined it in 1905, the year Charlton were formed. The O’s were formed in 1881 and are London’s second oldest club.
Becchetti, like Duchatelet, has single handedly ripped the heart out of Leyton Orient through negligence and sheer incompetence, and once again the EFL have stood by and watched as Becchetti bounced through managers (11 in total, and 5 this season) and kept silent as all around him shed tears as this fantastic club dropped to their knees.
Yesterday the EFL did finally speak out and expressed their “exceptional concern” and vowed to do “everything it can” to ensure the survival of Leyton Orient, even though they will now fall out of their remit. Words are easy aren’t they EFL? Aren’t they Francesco Becchetti? Aren’t they Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire?
Substantive, intelligent leadership and competence is obviously not.
Modern football outside of the Premier League’s cosy sound-proofed room is a mess but I truly hope The O’s can survive this and regroup in the Conference under a different owner and make their way back to where they belong.