We had endeavoured to conduct our discussions with LOWFC with honesty, dignity and respect for them as an entity, but following the factually inaccurate and discrediting comments made in their statement, we feel it necessary to respond to clarify a number of points.
Once the Club’s strategy had been finalised and agreed by the board, LOWFC were contacted on March 24 regarding a meeting. No response was received despite a follow-up until April 7, when April 20 was suggested as the first available date on which they could meet.
At this meeting, it was categorically and repeatedly confirmed by the Club that the decision was not based in any way on the performance or achievements of the women’s team on the pitch, but was due to a different strategic direction the Club wished to take with the establishment of a girls’ academy which would feed into a senior team, via a Development team.
This proposed structure had been raised in meetings with LOWFC previously but it was made clear to the Club that the management of LOWFC would not accept LOFC operating a development side in a lower position in the women’s pyramid for the 2020/21 season.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Club took its time to reconsider its position which has led us to the point where our board and management are in agreement that the name Leyton Orient should not be operated by a football team at any level over which the main club has no control.
The Club offered financial sponsorship to LOWFC in August based on production of a budget for the forthcoming season. This was not received until February.
We understand that the Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust were awaiting similar information before confirming their level of sponsorship.
Leyton Orient would like to reconfirm its commitment to women’s and girls’ football by reminding supporters that we will be establishing an academy structure with age group teams, along with a College Programme, Development Team and senior women’s team. Out of respect for the current squad, we made it clear to them we would not approach any of their players to play for us, but should any elect to attend trials and be selected that is their prerogative.
We accept that dropping two divisions in the women’s football pyramid is not ideal but it is a position we are willing to take as we hope it will only be a short term drop in status and we believe that the establishment of our wider structure for women’s and girls’ football is of greater importance to the Club and its community.
We would like to once again thank the players and staff who have represented LOWFC over the past six years and wish them every success as they continue at tier four under their original, or a new, identity.
We will be making no further comment on this matter and will provide details of our trial dates for the 2021/22 season shortly.