Leyton Orient: Barry Hearn in talks to sell club to Francesco Becchetti

Barry Hearn
Hearn, also chairman of World Snooker, saw Orient lose to Rotherham in the play-off final at Wembley

Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn is in talks with Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti over the sale of his shareholding in the club.

Sports promoter Hearn, 66, took over the O's during the 1994-95 season.

His decision follows the club's defeat on penalties by Rotherham in last season's League One play-off final.

Becchetti, who is the head of the Becchetti Energy Group, has previously been linked to takeovers of Readingexternal-link and Italian Serie B side Bologna.

A statement on the Orient website confirmed that Hearn was in talks to sell the Matchroom Stadium outfit.

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

Dagenham-born Hearn, who first attended an Orient game aged 11, is also the chairman of World Snooker and the Professional Darts Corporation.

Orient were struggling financially when he took over the club, but have since established themselves in League One.

Hearn had wanted Orient to move from Brisbane Road to the Olympic Stadium, but the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) appointed West Ham United as their preferred bidders and, in March 2013, the Premier League side were awarded the right to occupy the stadium.

Hearn wants Orient to groundshare with West Ham and has been seeking a judicial review of the bidding process.

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