Leyton Orient AGM 2011

Posted: February 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

This years’ AGM promised to be a bit more ‘up beat’ than usual, so we got the Orientear’s resident work-shy reporter to turn up and take a few hastily scribbled notes.

Once again I declined the lure of the ‘sauna’ formerly known as ‘Annabels’ to attend this gala of fun and festivities. As is now customary I have to offer my apologies to all those Orient message boarders who have already perused the majority of this report. There are a few more titbits included in this article, along with some reaction/comment that was made after the meeting.

I can confirm that coffee, tea and the ‘family circle’ were available to those present. There were also some smashing looking cakes, but these were a charity cake sale, just in case you thought Barry was paying something resembling a dividend to the punters that had bought shares! For the record, I reckon there were around 80 punters present today all eager to hear our chairman give his ‘state of the union’ address.
Sure enough, the main players took to the podium, which resulted in a bit of a squeeze. All the board were in attendance today, as was his holiness, cardinal Slade and it was nice to see him at the meeting. Martin Ling and Paul Brush (one terrible appearance as I recall) are the only other Orient bosses to have attended this shindig in the past.
As for the formalities, well they didn’t last long at all. Steve Dawson, Dave Dodd and the auditors were re-elected to the board. The minutes of last years’ meeting were adopted and the whole shooting match took less than 10 minutes which must have been some kind of record. However, it was just the prelude to the much anticipated ‘Chairman’s Report’.


Before we get stuck into BH’s wise words a few numbers for you: We lost £786k last season, ‘Awful’ according to Barry H. Nevertheless, the clubs’ turnover held up and the operating loss was almost £290,000 down from 2008/9. There was an increase in match day revenues to the tune of £121,809 due to a bump up in our average attendance (4,937) which was up from 4,685 in 2008/9. The interesting factor in this came in relation to the amount of away fans coming through the turnstiles. That figure averaged 1,139 and just underlines how important it is for Orient to stay in this division seeing as we are fighting a losing battle in regard to picking up/keeping more home support.

It wasn’t long before our leader started getting into the subjects that we were itching to get our teeth into.
First of all the infamous ‘Olympic legacy’. Bloody hell! Where do you start? Most of what’s coming you already know. Basically, we are taking everyone to court. The Premier league, football league, government, minister for sport, Culture minister. And that’s just for openers. Barry reckons that our situation was never considered, or given, ‘due process’ by the people in charge of this 5 ring fiasco. The club have hired Mishcon De Reya and a judicial review specialist, Adam Lewis, who is supposed to be the top legal eagle in regard to judicial reviews. It appears to a legal layman (like me) that most of what has occurred has gone against ‘euro-competition laws’ and Barry reckons that we have a good chance of winning. This is not about O’s getting compensation either, according to our leader, but stopping West Ham. Hearn was adamant that this club should be given some respect and we (Leyton Orient) will not be bullied’. The initial legal layout from the club will be in the region of 100k and the £1.8 million we have made from the cup run has, by all intents and purposes, given us a fighting fund to be reckoned with. The opening legal shots have already been fired and we could well hear more about this by the 14th of April. Solicitor’s letters have already found their way from us to the desks of the Treasury department and Premier league. Their initial response was described by Barry Hearn as ‘wishy washy’. The premier league’s own rules state (rule 365.1, I think) that it ‘will not sanction any move that will have adverse effect on another club’ and it’s worth reminding any gobby hammers fans (you may know one or two) that if Spurs had won the bidding war for the Olympic stadium Karen Brady and the Porno dwarf would have been doing the exact same thing that we are in relation to this. The publicity that this subject has generated had been pretty good in regard to our case, but Barry Hearn reckons that people like Boris (described as a ‘dip- shit’ by our chairman- good one Barry), Tessa Jowell and Ken Livingstone are going to have some pretty uncomfortable days ahead when the public gets to hear how the Olympic project has been handled.
It’s seems like Steve Dawson is going to handle most of the legal stuff at our end and according to Hearn all the legal people he has consulted with reckon we have a good chance of getting our judicial review. Bazza later assured the assembled shareholders that he would not risk the club finances on an all out legal onslaught should we fail to get the Olympic stadium handover overturned. We’ve got a certain amount to spend and won’t be fighting this in the European courts ‘ad infinitum’.

I have lost count of the amount of words I have written on the subject of stadiums and grounds down the years. It seems that Eton manor maybe a viable place to construct a new stadium after all. This site has nothing to do with Baroness Ford and the OLC but is run by the Lea Valley authority. Older readers may recall that 10 years ago West ham tried to poach the site for a new training ground and were repelled by an Orient backed judicial review, seeing as it was our training facility at the time and was home to a rugby club too. With some LBWF backing maybe this could be a go-er, but Hearn would like to see the council be a bit more ‘on-side’ as they have been verbally supportive. Those residents of the borough that have seen it’s sporting heritage virtually disappear over the past 30 years while the council stood idly by may well agree. It seems a move to Harlow/Basildon isn’t being considered as (same as last years’ quote, folks) no one has the money to build stadiums. Hearn repeated his quote from February that he could well give all the money from any sale of Brisbane road (at the moment we would get 50% of any profit made on a sale) to build a new stadium with a capacity of around 15,000. We would like a slice of the legacy and a new ground built in and around the 2012 facilities would be better suited to us. Now, this could come over as a bit strange seeing as this would bring us nearer to West Ham if the O’s ever did relocate to Eton Manor, but one message boarder later made the point that the club could be a more attractive proposition when it came to being sold if this should ever come off. Being in and around the Olympic site would give Orient the appearance of being part of the fabled ‘legacy’ (that bleedin’ word again!) rather than being on the outside and hidden away within a housing estate.


At this point I decided to put my two pennyworth in. I asked Russell how he intended to build on the success of this season. Well, basically, it’s all about installing a footballing philosophy right throughout the club, from kids upwards. He cited Swansea City as a really good example of this as they play good football and are getting positive results through it. Slade would also like to work a bit more on the youth set up here as he hasn’t had much time to do this since his arrival 12 months ago. It’s also on the cards that Leyton Orient F.C will be leaving the training facility at the Ford sports ground very soon, to a venue yet to be disclosed. Contracts were a bit of a taboo subject but we have 9 players out of contract in June (some kids) but we are in discussions to extend the deals of some of the better players here that have only got a year to go. Basically we need to keep competitive, but the statistic comparing Southampton’s wage bill of £9 million quid to our own of £1.7 million says it all. It’s never going to be easy. Players (and Managers) like to keep their options open and a few must have attracted interest during our cup run from bigger clubs. Slade also praised the support he and the team have had this season, with special mention for the way we responded during the disastrous Yeovil game (Slade said he knew the referee was a wanker before they even took to the field). As a postscript, it seems like Alex Revel has played his last game this season. There is some slight damage to his knee but nothing too dramatic.
There was a quick reference to when Slade was offered the O’s hot seat last season. From what was said at the meeting it was Matt Porter who got in contact with Slade, via an agent, and asked him to come down to Southampton following the sacking of Williams last March. After the O’s put up a battling display at St Mary’s Slade was asked ‘Do you want it? It’s yours’ which must have been the shortest job interview on record. The rest as they say is history. Those of you who wonder why the pitch is watered just before each match at Brisbane Road can wonder no more. This is all RS’s doing as he reckons a ‘slick’ surface helps our game.

It’s no surprise that our relationship with West ham is pretty bad. Barry Hearn summed up Karen Brady’s assertion that the claret and blue menace were good neighbours to the O’s in one word; ‘Bollocks’. This will probably vindicate those O’s stalwarts who cannot stand them at any price (hello Dod, Gary the hat, Tom and Chappo) and the chances of any loans coming from Upton Park are virtually nil. To be honest I cannot recall in my 30 years of following this club what West Ham ever really done for us apart from sell us clapped out players and loan us some real duff no marks. Barry even said that whenever they have appeared here for pre-season or testimonials they have insisted on 50% of the gate money. This is in total contrast to our new best friends, Spurs, who let us keep all the money from these games. Don’t be surprised to see a few more faces from N.17 arrive here next season after the successes of this campaign. Barry also made a bit of a joke relating to his so called allegiance to Spurs, but as someone who has suffered from the same I can sympathise.
Moving swiftly on, the ticket office came in for some praise for the way they handled the ticketing for the Arsenal game and the whole backroom set up from Dave Dodd through to the groundstaff had their contributions acknowledged from the top table and the floor. It wasn’t all sweetness and light though. The tannoy system in the North stand is evidently inaudible and a few punters thought it should be replaced forthwith. Mind you, at least it will drown out the swearing in that stand which, by some accounts, is pretty unacceptable. Other bad news relates to the television money filtering down to our level that will take a bit of a hit from the middle of 2012. This could cost us as much as 50k but will hit championship teams harder as the economic downturn begins to hit media companies as well as ordinary Joe Public.

Overall this must have been the most upbeat meeting I have attended in 14 years. Good knockabout stuff interspersed with some gritty realism. Last year the AGM was grim listening, with talk about closing the East stand and an impending relegation. It seems that season ticket prices will stay the same (not confirmed, though) and the East stand will remain open with season tickets being sold for it. Hearn has got some enthusiasm back for the club, and although it’s difficult to tell where all this legal stuff will eventually take us, or what we’ll actually achieve if the legal system finds in our favour, it does seem that we have something resembling a fighting spirit at the club and we will not go quietly into the night like good little boys and girls. However, with the feel good factor that came with the unbeaten record and that F.A Cup run, a few cautionary words. For all the good Russell Slade has done here (and he has been a terrific breath of fresh air at the club) he has his work cut out for next season. Whether he likes it or not RS has taken Orient from a club with zero expectation to the brink of the play-offs when we would have all taken 15th place before a ball was kicked last August. To remain competitive in a tough league like this one is a hell of a challenge for a club of this small size and support and I’d advise anyone to take a rational look at things before they put their mortgage on us storming the league next season.

Away from the pitch it’s really anyone’s guess as to what will happen. The fact that this season has been genuinely exciting has galvanised Hearn and co. This time last year you got the feeling that he was just going through the motions and we were on course for a lingering death. I would be surprised if Barry Hearn left the club before the eventual outcome regarding moving to a new stadium in the locality or upping sticks completely had been decided. It may surprise some of you to learn that he is now Orient’s longest serving chairman too. As far as the upcoming legal wrangling regarding the Olympic Stadium is concerned it’s unclear what will be the true outcome of it all, even if Orient are successful with their case. I’d say there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than just putting one over West Ham (funny as that would be) and it could well be an interesting old summer on planet Orient.
Captain scarlet


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