Leyton Orient pay £250k bill but winding-up order remains

  • Leyton Orient owner Francesco Becchetti did not turn up for the hearing
  • Orient supporters packed out the small court room and some waited outside
  • Becchetti bought the club from Barry Hearn for £4million back in July 2014
  • Bottom in League Two - Orient could face a 12-point deduction for the offence

By Sam Cunningham for MailOnline

Published: 09:13 EDT, 20 March 2017 | Updated: 11:43 EDT, 20 March 2017

Leyton Orient have been a handed a stay of execution after paying their tax bill — but still have a winding-up order hanging over them with debts outstanding to several creditors.

HMRC were chasing the club and unpopular owner Francesco Becchetti for a fee understood to be £250,000 but it was announced at the High Court on Monday morning that the debt had been paid.

Their future remains uncertain, however, with remaining creditors backing the winding-up order to ensure they receive money owed. 

Leyton Orient fans protest outside the High Court ahead of the hearing over the club's future

The court was told Orient owe club photographer Simon O'Connor £6,000; Central Circle Event Management Ltd, who provide match-day stewarding, £18,000; and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, their local council, £36,000.

Becchetti did not turn up to what has been described as the biggest day in the club's 136-year history, but chief executive Alessandro Angelieri provided a witness statement claiming Becchetti plans to inject £1million into the club in the next 'eight to 10 weeks' to clear their debts. 

Orient supporters in their suits and scarves packed the small court room in such numbers that many more had to wait for the outcome outside the Rolls Building in central London as there was not enough space. 

They are desperate for the Italian to sell the club he bought from Barry Hearn for £4million in July 2014.

It had been described as the biggest day in the club's history with Orient's future at stake It had been described as the biggest day in the club's history with Orient's future at stake

It had been described as the biggest day in the club's history with Orient's future at stake

Controversial Leyton Orient owner Francesco Becchetti did not attend the High Court hearing

Leyton Orient's chief executive Alessandro Angelieri provided a witness statement at court Leyton Orient's chief executive Alessandro Angelieri provided a witness statement at court

Leyton Orient's chief executive Alessandro Angelieri provided a witness statement at court

LEYTON ORIENT FANS' TRUST STATEMENT 

LOFT board member Adam Michaelson said outside court: 'There are a number of still outstanding creditors, including a number more that were not represented today.

'It leaves the club in a state of significant uncertainty and, frankly, mortal danger. There is everything to suggest up until now that Mr Becchetti's word can't necessarily be relied upon.'

'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 his promise that he's made in order to do that, in order that it can be passed into the hands of people that clearly understand more about running this kind of organisation than he does.'

Leyton Orient Supporters' Trust have raised a £110,000 'fighting fund' to ensure the future of their football club. 

But they have no intention of using the money to bail out Becchetti and will consider using it to fund a 'phoenix club' should Orient cease to exist.

Mr Registrar Briggs, presiding over the case, said that placing the club into administration would be a last resort due to the serious damage it would do to the company. 

Orient are bottom of League Two, seven points adrift of safety and the 12-point deduction incurred for the offence would likely confirm their relegation.

He adjourned until June 12 to enable Becchetti sufficient time to clear the debts or sell the club. 

'The company have on this occasion the benefit of more time to raise money or sell the club and last of all make and administration order,' Mr Registrar Briggs said. 'That would incur a 12-point debt on their sheet which would seriously damage the company.' 

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