Leyton Orient cling to Football League status as they host leaders ahead of High Court date

Evening Standard
Digging deep: Leyton Orient fans have been raising funds to aid the club’s battle against a winding-up order: Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Digging deep: Leyton Orient fans have been raising funds to aid the club’s battle against a winding-up order: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Bottom-of-the-table Leyton Orient face runaway League Two leaders Doncaster tomorrow, but that’s not the only reason the club’s fans are feeling anxious.

The club are hanging on to their League status by a thread but it’s Monday’s fixture in the High Court, when they face a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill, that is causing the real angst at Brisbane Road.

Orient could ultimately face liquidation if they cannot settle their debt to Revenue and Customs, thought to be in the region of £250,000, and fans are holding their breath ahead of the day of reckoning.

Manager Danny Webb is focused solely on the threat of relegation with the club seven points from safety and only nine games remaining.

“Monday is a big day for the club and we are all going to know what is going on then,” said Webb. “For the supporters, it must feel like an eternity until then. I hope for the best possible outcome for those supporters. We all have our fingers crossed.

“I have to focus on the future of the team on the pitch and not too much on the future off it. That is in the hands of other people. But I am trying to shoulder a lot and reassure players and staff that everything will be all right. The truth is none of us will know the situation until Monday.”

Webb is trying to save what looks like a sinking ship. The 33-year-old was appointed in January with Orient in crisis off the field and spiralling towards relegation under the ownership of Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti.

A former non-League defender in his first managerial job, Webb has taken on the challenge with a positive outlook but the off-field problems have taken their toll.

Orient have lost five of their last six games and their young squad — thumped 5-0 at Accrington on Tuesday — look ill-equipped to prevent the club dropping out of the League.

“It reached a crescendo on Tuesday,” admitted Webb. “I saw everything rolled into one in terms of the situation at the club. It is well publicised. There has been a lot of change on and off the pitch, a lot of managers have come and gone, players have left, lots of speculation. And more times than not, that stuff catches up with you.

“The positive is I have decided to throw a lot of young players in to try to show Orient fans that, if we cannot stay in the League, there is hope for the future regardless of what Monday brings.

“I realised the mountain that had to be climbed when I took the job. It is difficult to start digging lads out in that dressing room because they are giving everything. They have not got us into this mess but they are trying their hardest to get us out of it.

“I am taking the baton maybe at the worst possible time but I am taking it on and trying my best for those fans.”

Webb says his dialogue with Becchetti has been “limited” ahead of the court hearing on Monday.

“I speak to his people around him semi-regularly but I am just getting on with the football side of it,” he says. “We all have our fingers crossed for Monday.”

What to read next