Two teams, two different nations, two different regions, similar stories. How can there be? What is the likelihood of that to happen? To the first question the answer is mismanagement and the likelihood is pretty low. The two teams in question are Leyton Orient FC, and AD Barrio Mexico. Leyton Orient FC is a team in London and Barrio Mexico is from San Jose, Costa Rica. Why do these two teams have similar stories? Well…
Leyton Orient is a team that has played in the Football League of England (either playing in the Premier League, Championship, League One or League Two) from 1905 till 2017 when all went wrong. The story of Leyton Orient’s demise started three years before the team was relegated from League Two in 2017 to an Italian businessman Francesco Bechetti. In 2014, the team was in the promotion battle in League One (Division Three) to the Championship (Division Two), and Bechetti started to own the club then. At first he was welcomed by the fans because of his fame and wealth as well as his statements of having Orient making the jump the following year. And that is when everything went wrong. In the following season Orient went from battling for promotion into the Championship the previous season to fighting for survival in League One. At the end of the 2015-2016 season, Orient were relegated into League Two and the last part of the English Football Pyramid to be considered a professional team. In the following season Orient went again to a survival fight in order to be considered part of the Football League. In the 2016-2017 season marked the end of Leyton Orient’s permanence in the Football League as the team fell to the National League. The National League is the fifth stage of the Football Pyramid in England and the first in terms of being an amateur in England. For the first time in 112 years and 112 seasons Leyton Orient FC have gone from being considered a professional team to an amateur team. From 2014 till 2017, Leyton Orient had ten different head coaches and three straight relegations. And then in the eleventh manager since 2014, Orient finally made it back to the Football League. Those coaches are:
- Russel Slade (April 2010-September 2014)
- Kevin Nugget (September 2014-December 2014)
- Fabio Liverani (December 2014-May 2015)
- Ian Hendon (May 2015-January 2016)
- Andy Hessenthaler (April 2016-October 2016)
- Alberto Cavasin (October 2016-November 2016)
- Andy Edwards (November 2016-January 2017)
- Daniel Webb (January 2017-March 2017)
- Omer Rizza (March 2017-May 2017)
- Steve Davis (May 2017-November 2017)
- Justin Edinburgh (November 2017-Present)
During the Bechetti years as owner of Orient, in addition to the managerial turnover, there were also front office turnover. When he first started being an owner Bechetti fired Matt Porto, the CEO of the team, and replaced him with loyalists who didn’t speak English or know anything about running a team. These loyalists racked up so much debt that the team had to field a team full of teenagers in the 2016-2017 season. Moreover, another thing that these loyalists did was not pay taxes. Having enough of the mismanagement the fans themselves started a trust to save the team into going to administration (a fancy title to being relegated without playing a game if it came to an extreme, normally a team loses points as punishment). These fans collected over a million pounds sterling in order to avoid administration. Bechetti’s business committed fraud in Albania. The Albanian government made an extradition request to England to have Bechetti be tried in Albania for the fraud that his companies made. As the rules detailing who can be an owner of a team in England prohibit someone who committed or is charged with committing a crime, Bechetti had to sell the club to a consortium which had Nigel Travis, a US-born CEO of Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robberts, the president of.
So in a span of three years under Francesco Bechetti as an owner Leyton Orient FC went from having 112 years in the Football League team to an amateur team. Moreover, the turnover was so high that the team had a new head coach in the middle of a season.
Now under Nigel Travis’s leadership, the team has made the first jump. Winning the National League outright and become a shadow of the history of the club.
AD Barrio México
In Costa Rica the top two leagues are professional leagues and amateurism starts in division three. The story of Leyton Orient’s demise is more or less the same with Barrio Mexico. Ever since the team’s founding in 1948 till 2010, it was owned by the fans. The name of the team changed from Nicolás Marín in 1948 to Asociación Deportiva Barrio México in 1967 to Club Deportivo Barrio México in 1984. However in 2010, El Equipo Canela (“Cinnamon Team”, the colloquial name for the team) were bought by Mario Sotela, the same owner of Liberia Mia. Since one cannot more than one team in the same division, Águilas Guanacastecas (Liberia Mia) were relegated to the Second Division to make way for Barrio México in the first division. That party didn’t last long for the team, as the team were relegated in the middle of the season in a Special Session where 11 of the 12 teams voted in favor of kicking the team out of the division after Matchday 12 because of the ownership status and the team couldn’t meet financial obligations. Sound familiar? After that, Barrio México became a mainstay in the Second Division till the 2017-2018 season when the team went bankrupt. When that happened, the team was stripped of all trophies since their founding and were demoted to the amateur divisions in the Costa Rican Football Pyramid collectively named LINAFA or Liga Nacional del Fútbol Asociaciado. In January 2018, marked the end of this traditional team being part of the Costa Rican professional divisions since there was a debt to the CCSS or Caja Costaricense del Seguro Social or simply the Costa Rican Social Security Administration. Because of this debt, El Equipo Canela were not granted a license to play in the Second Division and had to skip a year of competition (the death penalty). A glimmer of hope in this once proud neighborhood team happened on May 19th, 2019 when the team won the 2018-2019 LINAFA First Division season, beating San Luis-Puntarenas FC by an aggregate score of 2-1, all goals were scored in the away leg.