Leyton Orient supporters are due to meet tomorrow to discuss plans for a rescue fund after the League Two club were served with a winding-up order by HM Revenue and Customs.
The east London outfit could be forced into liquidation unless their controversial owner Francesco Becchetti settles an unpaid tax bill. A High Court hearing has been scheduled for 20 March.
Dire results have already put Orient in danger of losing their 112-year Football League status – they are second bottom of the fourth tier – and fans fear they could now be pushed out of existence altogether.
The Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust (LOFT) hopes to raise £100,000, which could help them join a consortium to buy out Becchetti, keep the club running if they enter administration, or, in the event of liquidation, found a phoenix club in the same manner as AFC Wimbledon.
LOFT said: “How the club’s owner Francesco Becchetti reacts to this winding-up order will be a clear indicator of his seriousness at selling the club as a going concern. The coming days and weeks may be the most important in Orient’s 116-year history.”
Italian renewable energy and waste management tycoon Becchetti, who has appointed seven managers since buying the club in 2014, has indicated that he is willing to sell.
He is though to be determined to recoup the £4m he paid sports promoter Barry Hearn, a prospect that has receded with the team’s slide down the leagues.
Orient had just missed out on promotion to the Championship, losing the play-off final on penalties, when Becchetti invested.
They were relegated to League Two in his first season and now lie six points from safety with 12 matches remaining.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham was their ninth loss in the last 12 games.