Orient chairman believes potential takeover could be spectacular for club

9:25am Thursday 3rd July 2014

By Simon Mail

Barry Hearn believes the potential new owner of Leyton Orient has the ambition and resources “to do something spectacular” if the proposed takeover goes through.

The O’s are in discussions with Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti over a takeover which could be completed this week. Orient have been the subject of interest in recent years but Hearn believes the 47-year-old finally represents someone capable of taking the League 1 club to the next level.

Hearn said: “I have been very consistent in saying that I would step aside if the right offer came in from someone who could take the club forward. So far that hasn’t happened but this may be the exception.

“I think he has the ambition and the resources to do something spectacular here but discussions are still ongoing. If the man delivers what I think he can then this is a very exciting time for Orient.”

He added: “We still need Football League consent but that may be done this week. There is a very good chance of completing it this week.”

Becchetti has previously been linked with taking over Reading and Serie B side Bologna. He is the head of Becchetti Energy Group which is a renewable energy and waste management business.

The Italian has already bought a home in England and is moving his family to London which underlines his intentions to buy the club.

Hearn has a 90 per cent ownership of Orient and insists any deal would be for all of his shareholding.

Hearn is convinced the club will be in good hands if the takeover is completed and expects chief executive Matt Porter and manager Russell Slade to remain in charge.

The O’s chairman said: “They are ticking boxes and he is a hugely wealthy man. He has brought in football experts and Matt Porter would be staying. They are very impressed with what we’ve done and they see it as a strong team here.

“They’re hugely impressed with Russell Slade and he is excited about the possibility of working with a bigger budget.

“As a fan it’s very exciting and they are very ambitious and have the funds to achieve their goals. Getting into the Championship is the immediate target and they want to push on from there. They are talking a good fight but they also have the budget to back it up.”

Hearn took over the East Londoners in the 1994/95 campaign and the team were promoted to League 1 in 2006. Last season was one of the most successful years in the club’s history as the O’s missed out on promotion to the Championship after their play-off final defeat at Wembley.

Hearn has made no secret that he is prepared to sell the club but insists he will still retain some involvement if the takeover goes through.

The sports promoter said: “The interests of the club will be protected. I will be staying in some capacity regardless. But there is some way to go and if it doesn’t happen then nothing changes. I don’t know what role I would have but I would certainly still be at the games.”

The potential change in ownership was initially confirmed by the club last Thursday.

A statement said: “Leyton Orient can confirm that chairman Barry Hearn is in talks with Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti regarding the sale of his shareholding in the club.

“The sale is subject to due diligence and Football League approval and the club will not be making any further comment at this stage.”

Becchetti, 47, is listed as a director of Leyton Orient Holdings Limited, which was registered as a private limited company at Companies House last month.


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