Leyton Orient in 'mortal danger' as winding-up petition adjourned
Leyton Orient have survived an immediate winding-up order but the club remain in “mortal danger”, according to the legal adviser to their fans’ trust.
At a winding-up hearing at the High Court, Orient owner Francesco Becchetti has been given until 12 June to pay off debts or sell the club.
The League Two side were the subject of a winding-up petition brought by HM Revenue & Customs over unpaid taxes.
Those debts have now been paid, but money is owed to four other creditors.
Chief executive Alessandro Angelieri gave the court a statement saying Becchetti would invest £1m to pay off remaining debts in eight to 10 weeks.
Adam Michaelson, legal adviser to the Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust, told BBC Radio London: “It leaves the club in a state of significant uncertainty and frankly mortal danger.
“In respect of a potential sale, we would call upon Mr Becchetti now to look to sell the club at the earliest possible opportunity and make good on the promise that he’s made.”
In January, Becchetti said he would be willing to consider selling the struggling League Two side, which he bought in 2014.
The club’s latest set of accounts, from the year ending 30 June 2015, showed the club had debts of £5,512,449 – more than the value of the club’s assets of £5.5m.
Fans will prepare ‘for all eventualities’
Analysis – Phil Parry, BBC Radio London
So, with a sword of Damocles still swinging over their heads, Orient will have to battle on.
Mathematically they still have a chance to avoid relegation, although form would suggest that is unlikely. They have eight games left, are seven points from safety and have picked up just three points from the last 24 available.
Off the pitch, with outstanding bills yet to be paid, operations at Brisbane Road may be difficult. For example, a company which provides matchday stewards is on the list of creditors, and perhaps the remaining matchday programmes may not return to full size.
As we wait to see if the extra £1m investment promised in court materialises, fans will continue to make preparations for all eventualities.
The Fans’ Trust has already raised more than £100,000 and are planning to keep Leyton Orient alive in some guise, including a possible ‘phoenix club’.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be peeled to see if talk of a buy-out comes to fruition.