Leyton Orient staff urge FA and EFL to intervene over unpaid wages

Guardian sport
The Guardian

Leyton Orient staff have accused the club’s owners of failing to respond to repeated requests to pay them their wages for March, causing some of them to have to find alternative living arrangements.

Orient, who were relegated from League Two on Saturday after a 3-0 defeat against Crewe, still owe four creditors money despite escaping a winding-up petition after the club paid its debt to HMRC. The Italian owner Francesco Becchetti has been given until 12 June to pay off debts or sell the club having previously indicated he will inject £1m to ensure Orient survive.

However, with the end of the month approaching and still no sign of last month’s wages, a statement on behalf of Orient employees urged the Football League and Football Association to step in.

“We have been met with a wall of silence,” read the statement. “We are now on the 24th day of the month and are yet to receive a payment of wages for March, with April due in only four days’ time.

“We are extremely concerned about the ongoing situation given the effect of non-payment of mortgages and rent are already resulting in staff having to relocate.

“We appeal to the EFL and the Football Association to intervene on our behalf as the regulatory bodies in the sport and demand substantive answers from the club’s board It was previously reported that the EFL met with directors of the club in March where the club’s plans until the end of the season were outlined and financial reassurances were given.

“Having failed to have these plans communicated to us as staff, or even see evidence of such plans during the intervening weeks, it reinforces our grave concern regarding the financial stability of the club or its ability to pay outstanding debts.

<span class="element-image__caption">Leyton Orient fans make their feelings known about owner Francesco Becchetti</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Tom Jacobs/Reuters</span>
Leyton Orient fans make their feelings known about owner Francesco Becchetti Photograph: Tom Jacobs/Reuters

“With two weeks of the season left before we fall out of the remit of the EFL, we call on you to act immediately and without delay on our behalf.

“With the growing mismanagement of football clubs in general we feel your intervention is essential in order to safeguard ourselves, as well as other clubs who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future.”

Meanwhile, Barry Hearn – who sold his majority stake in the club to Becchetti in 2014 – has resigned from his position as Orient’s honorary life president.

“I’ve written to Leyton Orient this morning, to Mr Becchetti and his lieutenant, to say I cannot possibly be associated with any business, and in particular Leyton Orient Football Club, that doesn’t pay its staff and doesn’t pay the wages in the normal course of business,” Hearn told Sky Sports News HQ.

“It’s a sad day for me, it was only an honorary role and a non-executive role, but I don’t want my name linked to the club under the current ownership. This owner has got to go, he’s made a terrible mess of the club and he’s lost a lot of his own money.

“I am not happy to be associated with anyone who treats his staff and players like that – they’ve got their own lives, mortgages, kids etc. From today I am no longer the president of Leyton Orient Football Club, that doesn’t mean I will not be there to help in the future but clearly something drastic has got to happen and it’s got to happen very quickly.”

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