There are crises and there are crises. Football is all too often expert in generating its own, and there is no more exemplar of this currently than Leyton Orient.
The sight of a club falling to pieces before your eyes is sad in any circumstance. When it’s a club which, just a few years ago was nearly in the Championship, there’s something extra tragic about it. A needless waste of everyone’s time.
But the big question here for everyone, as is often the case, is why can’t ‘they’ (in this case The EFL) just do something about it?! After all, what’s its purpose? The answer is actually quite simple: it’s a competition organiser, because that’s basically how the clubs like it, and the executives who oversee it, have to work in that context.
In the case of Leyton Orient, you have an owner who isn’t really there because of their love of the club, but because they want to own one and have the means to do it. Although it appears in the case of Orient that a few recent avoidable errors have been made in how they’ve has approached the issue, the fundamentals remain the same: if the club is in disarray, there is very little that The EFL can do unless and until the club actually breaks a rule, or asks for help. So far it appears that neither Orient nor Franco Bechetti has actually broken the rules. He’s just behaving badly. That makes it difficult.
On that basis, how should The EFL deal with it, and what should the Orient fans do – particularly the Leyton Orient Fans Trust (LOFT)?
The first point, is neither should get dragged into conducting relations using a media relations strategy. Now that includes Twitter and your own channels, as well as other activity like press releases, it’s even more important to choose your words carefully.
From my experience of previous, similar cases, what The EFL can do is to ensure that they keep communicating directly with the supporters and their representatives, which I am sure they are. What they also need to do is to make sure that, despite the limitations on what they can and cannot say (because The EFL remains a private concern controlled by the clubs remember), they are seen as open handed, reasonable and fair at all stages. They are the ones that people will view as being the ‘competent authority’ at a time like this, and they need to unphold that.
Eventually, as things do, this situation will change, but this is where the overused word ‘dialogue’ comes in: both The EFL and LOFT need to try to understand each others position, show flexibility and movement where they can. There might not be a solution that readily presents itself at the moment, and it’s not easy to see one as yet, but if things are going to change, that’s all you can do.