Why ‘O’ Why?
The story of Leyton Orient is not a fairy-tale with happy endings but instead a real life nightmare with monsters ruining what was once a noble club based in East London.
Francesco Becchetti… an Italian villain to the loyal Orient supporters who follow the team up and down the country. A man who has completely destroyed a club and doesn’t seem to care one bit about the effect it has had on everyone else.
The downfall of Orient all began on the 25th May 2014… 2–0 up and cruising in the League One Playoff final; they looked almost certain for a return to the second tier after a 32 year absence. However, football is a silly old game and the O’s conceded 2 goals in normal time and went on to lose 4–3 on penalties to Rotherham. Breaking hearts in doing so. The rollercoaster ride began… Leyton Orient lose the bid to ground-share the Olympic Stadium in London with West Ham; Hearn sells his 90% stake in the club to Francesco Becchetti (making the decision following the defeat at the hands of Rotherham); A disastrous season which resulted in finishing 23rd and subsequently relegation the League Two.
A 1–1 draw at home to Sheffield United sent Orient plummeting into the 4th tier on English Football. Exactly 11 months after challenging for promotion, the O’s were back down in the depths of English football.
Fast-forward two years and Orient are getting relegated once again… not from League One again but in fact League Two! Tipped for promotion in the 2016/17 season after a promising 2015/16 season, finishing 8th in the table, the O’s were hot favourites amongst the likes of Doncaster and Portsmouth to gain promotion back to League One. However, that all fell apart… why you ask? Francesco Becchetti.
6 managers in one season, two of which could not speak English, is enough to show that the ownership from Francesco is shambolic enough without the inability to pay players and staff wages. Many players refused to play and some others left the club due to these circumstances. Leaving Leyton Orient to field almost their entire youth team just to finish the season. Let’s not forget releasing “club legend” and key player Dean Cox on the day after the Transfer Deadline after he refused a move to Northampton in the same Transfer Window (and previously Peterborough also) because he wanted to play for Orient.
Yet Francesco still refused to sell as the offer made by one mystery buyer was “not good enough”. Protests were staged by Orient fans at the final games of the season including a pitch invasion which lasted nearly 2 hours against Colchester! A true show of hatred for the owner who was ruined their club’s pride completely.
The Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust have set up the “Leyton Orient Regeneration Fund” just to stop the club from going into administration. With an initial target of raising the entire £250,000, I am pleased to say that as of the 8th of May they have successfully raised over £155,000. Yes, £155,000 put in by fans of the club and I’m almost certain that other fans far and wide will have contributed to this fine cause. Proof that football isn’t just a game, it’s a community. A way of life.