Meeting with CEO – 08/08/2021

On Wednesday evening PTB met with CEO Karl Evans to provide fans with an update into the current goings on at the club before the season opener on Saturday. This was the first meeting with Karl since monthly meetings were stopped back in April so there was obviously a lot to discuss.  
 
It was raised how disappointing it was that the fans petition signed by near on 3000 supporters was disregarded by the owner and yet again the concerns of the fans was ignored. Karl confirmed this was raised at the board meeting but was ‘unintentionally missed off’ the boardroom update.
 
PTB have requested Abdallah updates his ‘vision’ for the club given that the current vision takes us to the end of this season and to date, lacks any real progression both on or off the field.  
 
We have asked if we are able to meet both Keith Curle and Karl together to speak about fan concerns and to try and obtain some guarantees over the running of the team. We feel it’s important that Keith has a clear mandate about what his job is to prevent him falling foul like numerous head coaches before him. If Keith is left in charge for a period of time, he is going to be instrumental to our future and if he wants everyone on the same page, it’s important to address not only existing supporters, but that there are a large number of lapsed supporters who have lost the faith in the ownership. All we aim to do is offer an honest assessment of how fans feel based on all the feedback we receive from you all. Karl stated he would ask him and look to arrange this.  
 
Q. How many season tickets have been sold this season?  
A.      2167 – We have asked for a breakdown of adults and concessions.
 
Q. George Edmundson has just been sold to Ipswich for an undisclosed fee, do Oldham get a sell on fee? There is also a rumour that Oldham sold the takings of a friendly with Rangers (agreed as part of Edmundsons move to Rangers) to collect some early cash?
A.      Oldham would only receive a 20% sell on of anything over the original transfer fee to Rangers. This would only be received in instalments also. It is confirmed the sell on following Georges move to Ipswich was worth a 5 figure sum only.  The friendly with Rangers couldn’t go ahead as Rangers couldn’t fulfil the fixture. Oldham have made other arrangements which have meant it has been more beneficial to the club for the game not to have been played via the covid interruption insurance. This insurance seeks to compensate businesses for a lack of ability to trade and the resultant loss of income.
 
Q. What will the club be doing to try and get supporters through the turnstiles?
A.      The club has acknowledged the North Stand needed to open to increase numbers, half season tickets could be offered and the club are looking into a membership scheme which would include incentives including reduced POTD schemes and discounts for the club shop etc. This is yet to be finalised but would be released at some point this season. There have been a few teething issues with the new ticketing system which has delayed the release of this.  
 
Q. High staff turnover with the likes of (club doctor) Dr Robert Beardsell and Paul Murray leaving in quick succession. Why is that and why did it take so long for his announcement to happen?  
A.      Karl stated he was saddened by the departure of Paul as he saw him as a friend but the decision was made by Keith and Mo who believed the youth department needed restructuring, Karl believed the role is 80% paperwork and 20% training which probably wouldn’t now suit an ex-player. Paul hadn’t signed his release agreement which is why no announcement had been made until the club finally confirmed this.

Karl states Robert left the club following a disagreement with the club about his contract which was signed for 2 seasons in Oct 2020 which he wanted to renegotiate. PTB still find it poor that Robert left without a thank you something too familiar at the club. Karl doesn’t believe that there was a high turnover last season and thinks we have ‘steadied the ship’ in that department.
 
Q. The advertisement of season tickets has been poor other than social media why is that?  
A.      Karl feels this is harsh given the adverts in the local papers, billboard adverts etc. Given the clubs response from supporters over the last 12 months has meant the club has slightly toned down these posts and adverts. There was also a concern over any possible refunds fans requested from last years season tickets.
 
Q. There was previously an armed forces discount for supporters which would drop the price to a concession rate, this season it has been stopped?  
A.      Karl wasn’t aware this was something the club did before but would take this away with a view to implementing it if not this season but for next season instead. PTB stated it would be a good stance for the club to take in showing support for serving & veterans and to continue what has previously been offered.
 
Q. Now the JOA (Joint Operation Agreement) has been signed will there be further discussions over agreeing and signing the SLA (Service Level Agreement)?
A.      Karl started by acknowledging he is delighted the Joe Royle Stand can be opened and believes this wouldn’t have happened a number of months ago due to other barriers within the club. Karl has separated the JOA and the SLA into a 1st priority (JOA), 2nd priority (SLA) and the 3rd priority (Buying the ground).
 
Now the JOA has been signed, meaning fans can return to their seats, the club can focus on working with Brassbank with a view to agreeing an SLA to really increase the club’s potential of making money. The JOA, Karl confirms, is a continual agreement until another agreement is put in place. Karl did also advise the North Stand car park is now being run by the OEC rather than the club.  
 
Q. The new front of shirt sponsor, what does this provide the club financially?
A.      The company pay the club physical cash for the deal and Bartercard’s ‘currency’ for the club to spend with their member companies. Karl believes the deal is virtually double last year’s deal which he says was down to some great work by Steve Brown the new commercial manager. Karl also advised that the back of shirt sponsors had now been confirmed which have now been announced on the club’s website.  
 
Q. Is Abdallah still actively involved in the club, is he looking to sell or is he looking to win fans trust back and stay?
A.      Abdallah is currently away, but is still actively involved in talks with Karl, Mo and Shahed about the running of the club but he isn’t going to be there to run the day-to-day side of the business due to the other businesses he has. Karl doesn’t get the impression that Abdallah wants to sell, states money is tight but none of the warning signs he experienced at Bury have occurred.  
 
Q. Does Karl think the club has moved forward since his arrival and what has he contributed?  
A.      The club has now implemented safeguarding audits, created a Personal Development Record for the staff, the North Stand is now open, a memorandum of understanding between the Foundation and the club being put in place and really happy with the recruitment of staff in very key areas who are performing well in Commercial and Operations.
 
Q. Should the sporting director not be focusing on helping the club set up one style of play from top to bottom to help ease the youth players progression into the first team to increase our chances of making money off our youth players?  
A.      Karl doesn’t believe this is something easily implemented within League 2 due to the rate of change in managers / head coaches across the whole League. The club however will be looking to implement a number of different styles to ensure the future of the club is adaptable and able to change formation with ease. Karl also mentioned he is still putting together a new vision for the club and has advertised the position of ‘Head of Academy’ himself and he will be doing the recruitment. Selim (youth team manager) is not a candidate for the role.  
 
Q. Why did it take so long for the club to react to the allegation of racism?  
A.      The club were not made aware of the allegation until Monday which is why the statement was delayed. Greater Manchester Police are still investigating the complaint and will speak with the victim of the allegation in due course.
 
Q. Is there any chance of a new start with the management / owner embracing a more open and transparent approach? Maybe a joint taskforce between the club and the fans groups to look at how other clubs do it successfully and then maybe a commitment to act on the evidence collected?  
A.      Karl was happy to arrange a meeting with PTB, Foundation Oldham and the club board to look at how we can work together and move the club forward for the good of all the supporters. The club admits to doing things wrong and recognises it needs to work harder to get the fans all pushing in the right direction. Karl believes having taken guidance from supporters has been massively beneficial within the short time he has been at the club. PTB support this stance and are hopeful this can be arranged in the near future.  
 
Q. Is Abdallah making an appearance back at the club anytime soon?
A.      There is no planned return to the UK for Abdallah at this time but this isn’t to say it won’t happen.  
 
Q. When will the Bartercard sponsored shirts be in stock?  
A.      Karl was having a meeting with Hummel Friday to discuss this, they had agreed to do a selection of plain and sponsored shirts however a date for the branded ones isn’t known. The club will look to release an update on this as soon as possible. PTB have welcomed the new designed badge and shirts.
 
Q. What truth is there that the academy funded training kit was taken by the first team?  
A.      There was a large overspend (many thousands) on kit by the whole club last season, normally you will be given a gift amount of kit by Hummel to distribute between the first team, youth team and academy to have match kit and then any extra kit would be bought by the club at a wholesale rate nearer the cost price. Paul Murray was given the opportunity to provide the academy with training kit not used last season for this season, these were not hand me downs and were brand new. Paul agreed to take the kit which meant saving the budget for elsewhere.  
 
Q. What are your thoughts and feelings about the social media activity particularly towards the club and yourself?  
A.      Karl states he came off social media a long time go however he does ask the media team to keep him up to date with the ongoings of the hashtag. Karl enjoyed the engagement and banter with supporters in the early days but is accepting he got things wrong at times but he believes certain trolls want to spoil it. Karl told us he finds it a bit sad and strange that a small group of people who claim to abhor bullying and allege it is happening to them and their mates mainly behind fake ID’s who think its Ok to gang up, bully, harass and spread malicious untruths about others on social media for no reason other than to try and stay relevant. Karl believes if he was being targeted it prevents vulnerable people from experiencing the same. In fairness he believes some of it is amusing so it keeps him and the staff amused more out of pity than it actually being funny.
 
Q. Are we still under an embargo?
 A. The current club transfer embargo is to do with transfer and loan fees not being allowed plus there is a limit on what you can pay a player but free signings and loans are fine. 
 
We thank Karl for his time and hope to see progression made on the points raised. Should you have any questions over the answers to what we have received contact us in the usual way! 

PTB Update – 03/08/2021

Away Days

We are now so close to the start of another season. We begin the campaign with a home game against Newport County on Saturday and the week after sees our first away trip of the season, when we travel over to Bradford. We have created a page on our website for each away game, this includes travel options, places to drink, PTB meet ups and more. The link for the page is here:

https://pushtheboundary.co.uk/away-day-travel

We have had positive dialogue with Bradford City & West Yorkshire Police over the last few weeks about our intentions for the day and we have reiterated that we want to try and get as many people to the Bradford game as possible, with the preferable option for PTB being pay on the day, which has been fixed for the season by Bradford at a reasonable £20.

Given the numbers involved we will obviously need to make allowances, as soon as ticketing news has been released, we will be in touch to give you any guidance on this should it needed.

We will also be doing a social media poll to try and ascertain how many fans will be turning up, so we can advise Bradford City, ensuring that as many Latics fans can be accommodated.

It’s been a long time since we have been able to be together as fans and in that time, there are lots of you who we’ve had dialogue with and would love to meet. We have always wanted to be fully transparent with fans and want to have the opportunity where we can hear your views and all your ideas, thoughts, concerns or suggestions! At this stage, we will aim to be in The Bradford Arms for 1pm.

Venue: The Bradford Arms
Address: 77 Manningham Lane, BD1 3BA
Time: 1pm
Distance from BCAFC: 550 metres

We would encourage to wear your colours, take your flags and banners and do everything you can to create a fantastic away atmosphere, something that we have become famous for over the years.

 

Joe Royle Stand

We are encouraged at the recent news that the Joe Royle Stand will be open for spectators following a long and hard dispute between the parties involved over various different aspects of the stand. We believe fans pressure has been a major factor in this change, which you the supporters deserve massive credit for.

Following the announcement made by the club, we understand that the Joint Operational Agreement (“JOA”) has been signed but the Service-Level Agreement (“SLA”) remains outstanding. This means that the stand will be available for use and that concourses will be open but any hospitality will remain elsewhere in the stadium.

Following on from our survey we found the opening of the Joe Royle Stand to be a major sticking point for some supporters who have had this as one of their main reasons for not attending home games for the upcoming season and we understand that supporters now may now feel more inclined to attend home games given this change in circumstances.

It is a great relief that the saga of the last 18 months has seemingly come to an end and short of celebrating fans being able to sit in the best facility in the ground, it’s certainly hugely important to acknowledge the progress made in getting the stand open to supporters again. Opening the Joe Royle Stand categorically does not mean that the away days campaign will be suspended. Our drive for supporters to get behind the team on the road still remains a key focus for us. We urge supporters to take a view of their own to decide whether the re-opening of the Joe Royle Stand is sufficient progress in their minds to return to Boundary Park. We understand that people attend games for a variety of reason, not all relating to on the pitch matters, and we ask that these fans aren’t criticised by others if they choose to attend home matches. We are still all one fanbase after all. Also, if it is enough to persuade fans to return then it is essential fans ensure healthy pressure is heard where necessary.

We are still aware that there are many underlying issues at Oldham Athletic Football Club that aren’t solved by this resolution. It’s therefore important we stand firm in obtaining positive outcomes on these other areas. Other issues include the lack of response to the petition issued to the club over a month ago requesting that the owner places the club publicly up for sale. There are issues regarding further upheaval with staff and also longstanding issues surrounding the continual role of the Sporting Director as well as financial uncertainty surrounding the club.

What we believe as a group is that it’s imperative in getting this football club back to stable footing and this will involve applying pressure as and when required, that we will continue to do. However, we feel it is also imperative to acknowledge and support progress if/when made. Re-Opening the Joe Royle Stand is something that as a group we have pushed and pushed in terms of a resolution for fans. This has been done via the club, the OEC, the council (via SAG) and MP’s. We are therefore delighted that this continued pressure has eventually paid off and that fans can at least have some modicum of normality back.

We would like to thank all parties involved in getting the stand functioning again. We stand firm on that fact that there are few few facilities in league 2 that can compare to this and it’s only right that fans can now take advantage again.

Push The Boundary will keep pushing and progressing both publicly and behind the scenes to try and ensure that supporters are treated much more fairly than they have been over recent years. This is a victory for the fanbase, and there have been too few of these in recent times.

 

Karl Evans

On the 29th April we announced the monthly meeting with CEO Karl Evans would come to an end, therefore meetings after this would be done on a much more ad hoc basis.

Due to us being less than a week away from the new season and as ever much changing at OAFC over the close season, we have arranged a meeting with Karl on Wednesday to raise any questions you may have ahead of the new season. Should you have any questions you require addressing please contact us via the usual methods.

 

Angela Rayner MP

As you may recall, we had a meeting with Angela Rayner MP a few weeks ago. This was a very positive meeting and following this, PTB completed a piece of work around collating the events of the last few years that have led us to the current situation. This included player disputes, turnover of staff and managers, treatment of fans, the North Stand and financial issues. We felt it vital that we look at the direction of travel and do our best to avoid a situation like we saw with Bury & Macclesfield as these are issues that affect local constituents. A letter was sent to the club by Ms. Rayner MP and we believe a response is still awaited. We will closely monitor how this progresses in the next few days/weeks before deciding on further action.

 

Foundation Oldham

We’d also like to congratulate the 4 new directors of OASF. It’s a very commendable and important thing they are all doing, and we want to offer all the support we can in terms of creating a Foundation that fans can be proud. We all want the club to be on a stable footing and the importance of fans in this process is vital.

We will try to stay in contact as much as possible but we’d love to see you at Valley Parade on the 14th August proud and in full voice supporting the team, catching up with friends old and new and sharing away day beers for the first time in what feels like an eternity!

We can’t wait! 💙

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

North Stand Update – 24/07/2021

You may have seen yesterday that we asked both the club and the OEC for a progress report on the North Stand.

Fans are no doubt aware that the stand has been shut since January 2020 and as a result, fans have not been able to use these facilities on a match day.

We have received a response from both parties, with the OEC stating the following “Very recently we have been approached by the club. The talks have been positive and with collaboration firmly at the forefront, it’s very pleasing that our proposed agreement originally from December 2019 has been the focus”.

Club CEO, Karl Evans also reiterated this message that talks had been positive to date.

We hope that further information will follow before the Newport game so that supporters can be fully kept in the loop and for those wanting to attend home games they have the option of the North Stand to sit in once again. We will certainly keep pushing for swift result on this matter, given how close we are to the start of the season. The signing of the SLA is the least fans deserve.

Karl was also keen to stress that following the allegations of racist remarks made to a director, that investigations were still ongoing with GMP and an update will follow in due course. Should the allegation be proven we would expect swift movement by GMP over the matter. PTB would also like to reiterate that any form of racist or hateful remarks are completely unacceptable and we would encourage supporters to call this out if they see or hear anything.

There are a number of issues at the club that currently need addressing as well as ongoing PTB work, we hope to provide a more substantial update in the not too distant future.

If any fans have queries over any of the above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Supporter Update – 26/06/2021

This week we saw the announcement of the league 2 fixtures, a day when we are busy looking for the grounds we’ve yet to visit, our favourite away days, where we are on boxing day, New Years Day and where we are for the last away game of the season…

New Signings 

Following a busy week where we have seen Latics sign 5 new faces and appointing a new commercial manager (Steve Brown), we wanted to give you all an update from our perspective.

First of all we want to welcome Hallam Hope, Sam Hart, Harrison McGahey, Jayson Leutwiler and Jordan Clarke to the club! We hope your time at the club is a happy and a successful one and that you buy into the fabric of the club, the history and have an understanding of what fans expect from you! Every player that pulls on the shirt has an opportunity to become a fans favourite and to go down in the clubs history. The support from fans will be there for all to hear this season.

Away Days 

Since our last update regarding our ‘Away Days’, we have spoken with all clubs in league 2 for next season to advise of our intention to pay on the day away. We would like to thank the clubs who have already replied in support of our stance and have agreed to help where possible. It is encouraging that clubs see our plight and want to support it. At the present time, Covid is still very much a part of our day to day routines, but we have hope that our match day experience (and ultimately attendances) will be back to normal by the start of the season. This follows the news that 60,000 fans are to be allowed into Wembley in the coming weeks for the European Championship semi-finals.

When we announced this action, we knew that this was always going to be a factor and that things could potentially be subject to change. This remains the case and we will adapt accordingly with whatever is within our control as a group and as fans. We also appreciate that there will be certain games where an ‘all ticket’ scenario is unavoidable, Rochdale away for example.

Rest assured that we are doing all we can to ensure that as many of us can pack out away grounds up and down the country for the upcoming season. Should there be any issues around away fans attending games or these being restricted we shall update supporters as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor Government guidance on this. This was never our only course of action so if it cannot be executed in the manner that we want, then we will move on to other ideas.

We have also contacted the EFL and FSA regarding our concerns over the ticketing situation for away days, as well as a lack of engagement from the owner and have requested intervention from them to address the urgent issues fans have with the North Stand, the apparent disregard of supporter interaction and a failure to address a petition by near on 3,000 supporters. The club have once again shown supporters that they would prefer not to face a problem head on, but to try and circumnavigate an issue by deflecting attention elsewhere. What supporters are asking for is far from unreasonable.

MP’s Meeting 

We had our call with Angela Rayner last week, which we felt was incredibly positive. As we mentioned last Friday, we do have more work to do on this and we are in the process of compiling this so we can move things forward. We also had our call with Debbie Abrahams and Jim McMahon to discuss the plight of our club and again this was received positively. Now all parties have been spoken to, we can work towards coming together. It was important to address the key issues in the time we had and we think we did that well. We find it very encouraging that people are coming forward to try and create a platform for change by listening to supporters views. We have also reached out to others who we believe can offer some assistance.

Blackpool Trust

It was great for fans to hear the story of Blackpool Football Club on the Boundary Park Alert System Podcast, as told by Christine Seddon. Christine has been inspirational (along with others) in enforcing change at her club and while there are similarities to our journey as a club, we appreciate there are also areas which differ. However, the overriding message is that fans CAN make a difference and that constantly banging on the door and applying pressure via various means, will eventually pay dividends.

Foundation Oldham

Finally, you will have seen a recent appeal for members to join Oldham Athletic Supporters Foundation. This is a message we support as the coming together as fans is vital to the success, and the future of the club.

We have read the June statement from The Foundation and we have to admit we are incredibly disappointed. We are disappointed because this was not ‘PTB’s’ letter, it was a letter signed by nearly 3,000 people, based on a strength of feeling in the fanbase. This would include people who have also signed up to the Foundation to be represented by them. Just because our actions seemingly don’t merit approval in the boardroom, does not mean that they don’t warrant discussion and require resolution. Fans voices have been ignored for far too long now and this is precisely the reason why PTB were formed, and why we will continue to be around. We don’t see this matter as closed and will push on behind the scenes rather than play the situation out for all to see.

It was also mentioned that there is no plan B. We have made it abundantly clear that bids are being made for the club, reasonable ones considering our situation, and the owner is holding out for an unrealistic price, effectively pricing us out of the market. We have asked the owner to consider these bids based on the weight of public opinion against him. We have seen time and time again, that people DO want to buy football clubs, regardless of the nuances (league position, land, stadium etc) attached to them. We firmly stand by this.

If the Foundation want to work with the club, then this is entirely their prerogative, but we don’t feel it’s appropriate for major issues such as fan dissatisfaction to be ignored or not given an appropriate platform. Collectively, we have found ourselves in the situation of trying to work with the owner before with very limited (if any) signs of success. Fans have mandated that the club should be held to account by its Foundation, but we are yet to see any public evidence of this following the election took place in September 2020.

To have a divided fanbase only has one winner…the party or parties that seek to divide them. We have no intention of letting that happen and we therefore implore you to join the Foundation and make sure that you can have your say on how we approach these conversations within the boardroom. While this is about right now, it’s also about YOUR club over the next 10, 20 or 30 years. Only we are capable of shaping this how we want it to look and to make it the effective, working Foundation that the fans deserve for their 3% shareholding in the club. This 3% is fan power that is yet to be fully recognised in the way it should be and we feel it’s time to utilise this. You have until 30th June to sign up and membership freezes prior to the AGM. This is your chance to make a difference.

As always, we thank your for your support, your patience and your ideas. We are on a journey and we want you to come with us. As always, all feedback and any ideas you may have is welcome.

Reclaim The Faith

Push The Boundary

Away Days – 11/06/2021

Everywhere We Go…

For years, we have taken pride in our away following and the support we give the team on the pitch regardless of our league standing.

We have packed out away ends up and down the country, taking 6,000 to Anfield, 4,000 to Fulham and regularly taken in excess of 1,000 to stadiums in leagues 1 and 2. This shows the unbelievable passion and loyalty that there is across our fanbase.

The 2020/21 season was strange for a number of reasons, one of the highest scorers in the division, most goals conceded and above all, none of us got to see Dylan Bahamboula play football live. Everything took place without fans and behind closed doors. We missed the late winner against Bolton and we can only imagine the bounce that would have taken place when Zak Dearnley’s shot nestled in the corner. In fairness, we have also been spared some calamitous defending, but the beauty of being a Latics fan through all these years is that despite the result, you always came back for more!

What we saw in the 2019/20 season was that away attendances dropped by circa 36% on average (based on the information available to us). The passion to turn up and support is leaving us and the main reason behind this is clear. There is a disconnect between the custodian of our club and the fans as we were continually held in the upmost disregard. This is seeing fans vote with their feet, not purchasing season tickets and vowing to not to give this regime any more financial backing.

Bringing this up to date, the uptake on season tickets is worryingly low for next season, with only circa 850 adult tickets sold for the upcoming season at a heavily reduced cost. Fans should be chomping at the bit to get back in the stadium and support the team, and we have seen this from other teams we are in competition with. Instead, we are taking a stand and voting with our feet due to the way the club is being run. We feel we have been left with no other viable option, due to the blatant disregard the owner has for supporters.

One thing we all have in common is that we love going to watch Latics, and therefore, we have listened to the great suggestions made by fans and want to put our weight behind it.

We saw attendances regularly drop below 2,500 in the 2019/20 season and based on season tickets sold, these averages can fully be expected to fall even further. It would not be a surprise to see attendances between 1,800-2,200 next season, unthinkable for our club we are sure you’ll agree.

What we are asking is that you dedicate all of your passion and energy into supporting the team on the road and while we accept and respect that attending home games is your decision, we would urge you not to attend home games for the forthcoming season. The main objectives for this campaign being:

– Attending away games only would be our way of showing that we ‘back the team, but not the regime.’
– Turning up and paying on the day means that only the home side will receive any gate receipts so we would therefore not be funding the current regime
– To shine a spotlight on our plight and show other clubs as well as the footballing authorities what we are dealing with
– To showcase the amazing support we have to any potential suitors. A passionate engaged fanbase is a big plus for anyone looking at purchasing a football club

In order to make this a success, we will facilitate the following as best we can

– Directions for fans travelling by various means of transport
– Arrange forms of travel for supporters where there is demand for it
– Guides to the best places to go before and after the game
– Arranging meeting points prior to games so PTB members and Latics fans can meet up and socialise before and after games
– If you regularly run travel to games we will happily advertise this for you, please get in touch with us via the usual means.

This action will be to show the owner that he has alienated the best support in the country by his
actions and dragged this club to its lowest point, and worse, in our 125th year of existence. At the same time, we get to travel and support our team, meet up like we used to do, have an amazing away day without putting any money in the owners pocket.

Other clubs have taken this stance and have prospered. This is not a reflection of your love for Oldham Athletic, this is a stand against the current custodians of our club. They will most certainly not be here forever, and we need to make sure that they take the decision to hand the club to more responsible custodians sooner rather than later, and before things get any worse on their watch.

None of us enjoy being in this league, that’s fair to say, but there is nothing stopping us making the best of it while we are here while sending a clear and concise message to our owner. Sell the club. We will work with clubs in our league to ensure that as many of our fans can be accommodated at away games as possible.

Further information will be disclosed in due course but to start things off, we wanted to open this up to fans and ask you the following

– What should this initiative be called? We want something that we can all feel part of, a community of fans that’s shows the stand we are making and sends a strong message out about what we are trying to achieve ie ‘Away Day Army’ or ‘Yard Dogs’.

– Do you want to be involved? We will need all kinds of help to ensure this runs smoothly and achieves the maximum effect. Do you have specific ideas of pubs / places to go before and after games or away days you’d like to cover? Send your suggestions in.

– If you run any away day travel (or wish to do so) then please contact us and we will do our best to work with you in order to make this happen

If you have any suggestions, please send them through to us via all usual platforms and for the name, we will create a shortlist that we will put to a final vote. This movement is for the fans, by the fans and we therefore want everyone included on this journey. We can only make this affective if fans buy into it like they did at Blackpool, your support is crucial to ensure we put the necessary pressure on the owner. The days of being ignored are over.

This is YOUR club, help us Reclaim The Faith!

PTB

Supporters Deserve Respect! – 10/06/2021

As fans of Oldham Athletic we ask for very little, however one of the main things we ask for is to be shown an adequate amount of respect. Supporting a club is sometimes not always easy to do, but we do it because it’s a tradition passed down from our mums, dads, grandads and grandmas and gives us a sense of togetherness that we are with likeminded people who share the same love. For most of us, we have an attachment or a memory which started this love affair, unfortunately for many, they are beginning to turn their backs on the club they fell in love with, and this is absolutely heartbreaking to see, hear and read about.

Once again the owner of our club Mr Abdallah Lemsagam has chosen to ignore the loyal supporters of our club. A large number of supporters have spoken, supporters who may have had season tickets, followed the club up and down the country, even taken days off work to see us play on a Tuesday night in some far end of the country. Supporters who have bought merchandise, been to events with the manager, bought a brick or subscribed to iFollow from further afield. 2976 supporters signed a petition requesting he sell his stake in the club and find a new owner, of which we know there is plenty of interest, to finally give the fans the fresh start that is needed, yet still not even the decency to provide a response to the petition or show fans any plans around how he believes this can be turned around. In 18 months, the disgruntled voices have gone from 300 to nearly 3,000 and this will only continue to grow.

The question continually being raised by supporters now is ‘how can I continue to financially support this regime’. We will be releasing one of a number of ideas for the new season tomorrow, we want you to be heavily involved. 

After hearing and speaking to other clubs, you CAN be heard and you CAN make a difference. Our future is not set in stone and there is no better time to dig our heels in and take back what is ours. We stand by the fact that this club is filled with potential, we just need the right people to unlock it. Let’s not be defined by the ownership that is looking to drag us into the mire.

We are calling on Oldham MP’s Jim McMahon and Debbie Abraham to stand with us to safeguard the clubs future. It is time for the MP’s to represent the sporting history of this town. The football club is synonymous with the town and it’s time that it’s future was given the hearing it deserves. We shall be requesting a meeting with them in the coming weeks.

Now is the time for supporters to take a stand and say no, without supporters backing the owner, the financial pressure has to grow. Let us be clear this does not prevent supporters ‘supporting the team’ just not supporting the regime. Stand up and be counted and be part of the revolution. The regional media have failed to highlight our concerns despite the likes of Macclesfield, Bury, Bolton and Wigan in recent years. That means as supporters we have to be the ones doing the hard work and taking this message to them.

Reclaim The Faith

Push The Boundary

Thank you! – 02/06/2021

Good Afternoon Latics Supporters,

Following the petition reaching its conclusion on 1 June 2021, we wanted to thank each and every one of you for your amazing response which resulted in 2,976 signatures being sent on the letter to the owner! This will help deliver a strong, clear and concise message for Mr Abdallah Lemsagam to place Oldham Athletic Football Club up for sale. It really does show the passion we have as a collective and that we want a positive future for the club.

As with any letter/correspondence provided to the club, we will out of courtesy give Abdallah until end of play on Wednesday 9 June 2021 to respond to the petition signed by so many. We do not expect a response from the owner but we would hope that a response would be forthcoming to the lifelong and loyal Latics supporters, who deserve so much better than what the current ownership has provided and is providing during his tenure. An email copy of the letter has been sent today and a hand delivered copy of the letter will be delivered tomorrow.

Once again, we cannot thank you enough for the weight of support behind this and we will continue to drive forward with future plans of protest should the current owner remain in situ come the start of 2021/22 season. No matter who the owner of Oldham Athletic is, they will come and go but the determination of supporters wanting change will only continue to grow.

It’s only a matter of time before that faith is reclaimed.

Adam, Danny, Ste and Will
PTB

One more day!! – 31/05/2021

We have one more day for supporters to sign our petition, which will be sent to Abdallah Lemsagam. 

Our petition was released on 20/05/2021 with a simple request to our owner – Sell Oldham Athletic Football Club. Fans have suffered for a long period of time and we feel enough is enough. The more signatures we have, the louder the voice. 

Ask your friends, family etc to help our cause by signing the petition which is on the link below;

https://www.change.org/p/oldham-athletic-requesting-abdallah-lemsagam-to-sell-oldham-athletic-football-club?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_28978685_en-GB%3A6&recruiter=1204488371&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=tap_basic_share

2876 supporters have already signed the petition, make sure your name is added before the deadline! 

It’s time to take our club back, it’s time to Reclaim the Faith. 

Al & Mo it’s time to go – 20/05/2021

Having witnessed yet another season where we are competing at the wrong end of the table and have suffered more off the field controversy, we feel a line must be drawn and we must look to the future.

As a group, we feel we have given the ownership of this club enough time to engage and to prove to supporters that they have the acumen to move us forward. Sadly, Mr Lemsagam believes that the number of fans who are unhappy are “a minority” and that we must get behind the team. As fans we are fully behind the team and we always will be. We back the team, but not the regime.

We have made our position clear in recent weeks that this can no longer continue. There are no signs of progress on any of the major issues faced by supporters and the gap between the club and fans is wider than ever. This is proved by the lack of people willing to commit to a season ticket for next season. There are people willing to purchase football clubs and we can no longer let this regime take advantage of the apathy felt by supporters.

We have a number of plans over the next few months, and these will become clear in due course, but this must start with a clear and impassioned plea for Mr Lemsagam to put the club up for sale and find a new owner who can take us forward and give the fans some hope back.

If you are in agreement, we are asking you to put your name to this letter so that we can show the ownership the strength of feeling amongst fans that we have had enough. Whether you support the work of Push The Boundary or not, we ask you to think about the future of our club and what is best for it. This goes beyond any allegiance to a particular faction of the fanbase as we must come together and Reclaim The Faith.

You can read our letter to Mr Lemsagam here and add your signature here. We will be sending the letter on Tuesday 1st June 2021, we hope to have as many signatures as possible. Foundation Oldham (OASF) and local/national press have also been made aware of our intentions. Let us be clear that this is not all we will be doing, this letter will be the start of a series of action that we will arrange while the current regime remain in charge of our club. Other teams have taken a stance like this and have prospered, Leyton Orient, Stockport County, Charlton & Blackpool to name but a few.

We want you to back this action and be a part of a new chapter in our clubs history, a chapter that we can be proud of. It is the time for action.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Letter to the Owner – 20/05/2021

Dear Mr Lemsagam,

We are writing to you with a clear message. Do what is best for this club and its supporters and place Oldham Athletic 2004 Ltd up for sale.

Push The Boundary requested your assistance, back in November 2019, to help you engage with a large number of the clubs supporters to try and help you make a success of this great football club. We gave you feedback regarding the feeling of fans and that if we continue on the same path, you would risk losing even more public support.

We managed one meeting with yourself following a protest. This was despite us sending numerous letters which were ignored but that one meeting has been our only contact with you to date. You committed to ongoing conversations but never followed through on that and kept your word.

While we accept you have injected cash into the club, you have also driven down revenue as a result of your poor decisions. This also does not give you the right to treat supporters in the manner that you have. Under your tenure we have ‘achieved’ the following league finishes:

2017/18 – 21st in League 1
2018/19 – 14th in League 2
2019/20 – 19th in League 2
2020/21 – 18th in League 2

Throughout this, we have had to endure a standard of players, with the very rare exception of one or two, not befitting of wearing the shirt.

We regret that it has got to this stage but we feel we have given you every opportunity prior to this, to listen and to engage with fans to make our situation better. The decline in the clubs fortunes both on and off the field cannot be allowed to continue and will no longer be accepted by its long suffering supporters. Your brothers position as Sporting Director and your position as chairman have both become untenable. In your last correspondence with fans you said that the number of unhappy fans were “a minority” but even you can no longer believe this to be true. Let us remind you that 88% of 1,137 fans decided you were not the man to take this club forward. This is combined with a huge reduction in the number of people purchasing season tickets and voting with their feet. The fans have spoken.

We have therefore been left with no option but to request that you cut your losses and sell the club to someone willing and capable to guide the club to good fortune once again. Push The Boundary have been made aware of numerous bids for the club which have been rejected by yourself despite being worth well in excess of what you paid for the club. This is also combined with the fact the club is a division lower, with a dwindling fanbase and lack of assets, the latter being something you were aware of when you purchased the club.

Over the past three years of your tenure, we have endured;

Late wages
9 managers
Court appearances
Missed rent payments
North Stand closure
Poor treatment of players & staff
Employment tribunals
Sponsors walking away
False promises over the ground purchase and training ground development
Continual poor performance from your brother as a director of football yet maintains his position.
Reports of bags of money arriving at the club.
Poor season ticket sales.
Substandard overseas players contracts being extended despite failing to play.

And this is topped off by a relegation to the bottom flight of English football for the first time since 1968/69 and our lowest league position since 1969/70.

The supporters of this club would back any owner willing to put 110% into making this club a success, which you will have seen for yourself following our relegation to League 2. We increased our season ticket numbers because fans believed a return to League 1 wasn’t far away. Since then the hope has disappeared and been replaced by a mixture of anger and apathy. We are suffering a slow death as a result of poor decision making, interference and a lack of willingness to listen and learn to valuable feedback from supporters.

The pressure from supporters will only continue to increase, whether that be via protest, a further reduction in home attendance or club merchandise being purchased. The clubs reputation has been ruined by a disregard for the people that matter most, our amazing fans.

As supporters all we ask is for you to acknowledge this venture has not worked and that you give us a chance to rebuild before this situation deteriorates any further.

Regards

Push The Boundary

If you agree with the above letter and would like the club to know your feelings please sign the petition on the link below;

http://chng.it/JcXdZ9cZ4M

Former Director Contact – 04/05/2021

In the interest of being fully transparent, we wanted to advise that on Thursday, former Oldham Athletic director Barry Owen contacted Push The Boundary, to discuss his time at the club.

As a group, we found it very disappointing that this contact has only been made now and not when he was in a position of influence within the club, a position that could have been of benefit to the fanbase. This has been fed back to Barry.

Given Barry’s reputation amongst the fanbase and the manner in which he departed, we felt following the conversation with Barry, that rather than a written response, an interview should be carried out in a manner which is convenient to all Latics fans. We have therefore suggested that he appears on The Boundary Park Alert System podcast to fully discuss his time at the club. This way, all supporters have the benefit of hearing this for themselves.

Social Media Blackout – 30/04/2021

Social media companies must do more to stop online abuse. That is why, this weekend, English football is coming together with other sports and organisations, to boycott social media and demand change.

After the activity was first raised by Championship Clubs, the EFL will join Clubs, leagues, supporter groups, other governing bodies, organisations across English football and wider sport in switching off our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, from 3pm Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.

Why are we boycotting social media?

We want to demonstrate our collective anger at the constant abuse on social media received by footballers and people in the game, as well as others across the world, which goes without any real-world consequences for perpetrators.

We know that a boycott alone with not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, which is why we will continue to take proactive steps to call for change. We will not stop challenging social media companies until we see enough progress.

What change do we want to see?

We are asking for significant action from social media companies, including:

  • Apply preventative filtering and blocking measures to stop discriminatory abuse being sent or seen
  • Be accountable for safety on platforms and protect users by implementing effective verification
  • Ensure real-life consequences for online discriminatory abuse: ban perpetrators, stop account re-registration and support law enforcement
  • A warning message to be displayed if a user writes an abusive message and need to enter personal data if they wish to send the message
  • Platforms to have robust, reliable and quick measures in place if abusive material is sent or posted
  • Transparent quarterly reports on the work social media companies are doing, internally and externally, to eradicate abuse on their platforms

We are also urging the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.

Time for change – 29/04/2021

Since Push The Boundary were formed in October 2019, we have always prided ourselves on delivering important information to fans in a timely manner at a time when, as a fanbase, we felt like no one was willing to hear our concerns.

In recent months, since the appointment of Karl Evans, we have had regular meetings where we have asked questions given to us by fans, as well as queries that we have as a group. We have tried to report these answers back in as much detail as possible and push in the right areas to try and get answers. One of the main reasons for the meetings was to raise fans concerns and feelings about the club to the CEO in the hope that they can be relayed to the board and then acted upon. In some fashion, this has been successful and of great benefit.

What we have found in recent weeks, following these meetings, is that we have not seen or been able to give you signs of any significant progress on any of the key matters than fans are currently faced with. These issues being the ownership of the ground, the future of the owners, the number of supporters walking away from the club and vitally, the North Stand and whether this will be open to supporters for the 2021/22 season.

We have very recently made our feelings clear around the ownership of the club and that the lack of progress over the last 3 years shows absolutely no signs of changing for the better. We are of the opinion Abdallah and Mohammed need to sell the club to give us a much needed fresh start. We feel fans are of the same opinion, especially given the result of our survey that highlighted 88% of you didn’t feel that Abdallah was the man to take us forward. The decline cannot continue at the rate it is. When we are consistently given no assurances over its direction, it frustrates us as much as it does all fans and trust us when we say, we hear this frustration loud and clear!

We have therefore taken the decision to stop our monthly meetings with Karl Evans so that we can focus our energy on where we feel we can truly make a difference. Making fans voices heard. This doesn’t mean that we will cut correspondence completely with Karl, as the communication between fans and the club should be a vital component of any club. It only means that we will have meetings on a more ad-hoc basis, should important information come to light and we will be upping the anti against the ownership.

We will continue to engage with fans in the manner we always have, but with a renewed focus on what we need to do in order to reclaim the faith at this club. Our strength has always been in our independence and speaking on behalf of disgruntled fans. This is more true now than it ever has been. The current situation can’t be allowed to continue into another season and we must do everything as fans to come together and fight for our club. Fans need to speak out and air their dissatisfaction on all social media platforms until meaningful action can take place post Covid restrictions. There are many ways for our voice to be heard in the meantime – email your MP, write to the Oldham Times or Oldham Chronicle or ring BBC Radio Manchester during their pre or post match talk.

Even if it’s not communicated explicitly, the owner knows of our frustrations and the louder we bang this drum, the more chance we have of creating change at the club. His tenure has an expiration date and we have to make him see that this time is upon us right now. 3 years of abject failure and a decimated fanbase show that as fans, we’ve had enough. This is about getting our dissatisfaction across to the widest audience. You have done it before let’s do it again!

As we always say, PTB is what supporters want it to be. Therefore any ideas, thoughts, comments or concerns send them to us via email or social media platforms. We will be in contact with next steps.

Reclaim The Faith,

PTB

Meeting with CEO – 28/04/2021

Push The Boundary met up with club CEO Karl Evans on Monday evening as part of our monthly catch ups. This was the first time we had spoke since director Barry Owen had left the club and news broke that further sponsors had turned their back on the club. As a result, there was inevitably quite a lot to discuss. There are still some key issues that need resolving, not least the situation around the North Stand and whether this will be open to fans for the start of the 2021/22 season.

As always we took questions from fans and we tried to cover as much as possible in the time that we had. If there is anything you would like further clarification on, please contact us and we will do what we can to fill in any gaps.

Following rumours circulating the fanbase, Karl confirmed that Mohammed Lemsagam has left the country. He went back home a few weeks ago. We asked if he was due back in the country before the end of the season and Karl confirmed this is unlikely as he has gone home to be with his family for Ramadan. He has however been in contact with Keith Curle as they look towards next season and existing players who are out of contract soon.

Karl advised it’s been an extremely difficult time of late around the club but feels he’s doing everything he can to move things forwards and he feels that there is a team in place at the club that can do that. The club are in the process of regrouping following recent changes but they can’t spend too long on that and have to look forward as there is work to do.

We advised that it is of many fans opinions that too many people over the years have not had the club’s best interests at heart and it has gone on for too long. He advised that people in the club have been very supportive of the decisions that they are trying to make within the club and while it’s tough work, everything they are trying to do is for the best.

Karl said he came away from the Morecambe game (lost 4-3) feeling as low as he has done this season. He looked at the (Morecambe) players and didn’t think that they were any better than ours. Yes, they are a tidy team and they work hard but feels like we should be up there challenging when you see some of the talent in our squad. It was forced home how low this makes supporters feel to see have far we have fallen. Karl understood our frustrations.

He feels that under Keith Curle, there is already more discipline within the dressing room. It was raised by PTB that stability around a squad, the head coach and how that team has been put together and given time to gel like Morecambe has resulted in them having a positive season.

We said that we have talented players but there are crucial parts of the jigsaw missing and it feels like we are going round in circles in terms of recruitment of players and Managers/ head coaches. The likes of Diarra and Fage being signed of further one year deals doesn’t fill supporters with hope of a promotion push.

We had an experienced manager at the start of the season in Dino but we saw fit to relieve him of his duties and replace him with Harry (Kewell) and following a 6 month spell, we have gone back to yet another manager with league 2 experience.

Season Tickets

There had been a number of queries raised by fans around season ticket sales and Karl admitted the club were happy with the number of season tickets sold as per the end of the early bird. This was given the fact that there had been no confirmation Keith Curle being retained yet and there are no key decisions made on the North Stand. Karl feels that a number of people are saving their money until decisions are made that will give fans more certainty.

Some key points regarding season tickets:

– 1691 tickets sold in total
– 678 adult tickets sold
– Just over 400 new tickets
– No free tickets have been handed out (excluding competition winners)

Karl advised that he would provide a full breakdown following the meeting. Depending on the split in adult/concession tickets and people renewing from last season, PTB would estimate that this would generate circa £170,000 once tax has been accounted for.

As part of this process, 300 people were contacted who hadn’t renewed. 15% of these people (45) said they wouldn’t renew until Abdallah leaves the club.

We said that it was commented that there was a lack of activity around the promotion of season tickets. Karl advised that had put a billboard up and were looking to get further adverts on the roundabout on Sheepfoot Lane and also they wanted to push an advert in the Oldham Times. They wanted a more subtle marketing exercise as they are aware of the negative feedback that some of the club literature has received in recent times and this affected the thinking.

Keith Curle

Regarding the future of Keith Curle, we asked if Keith would be looking for a longer term deal and he said that managers would want as long a deal as possible at the current time. We said that it would be a good sign of intent from the club to give him a longer deal as it would show signs of stability and giving an experienced manager time to get things right.

We asked Karl to see it from a supporters view and how it must feel as a supporter when you are seeing lots of players and managers coming in on one year deals, why would people part with the money for a season ticket when they keep seeing the same thing happening and no improvement in league position. It all comes back to the word stability which we still fail to have! We understand that certain players would only come to the club for a shorter period of time to put themselves in the shop window (Conor McAleny) but there needs to be a balance in the squad so that the squad only requires small adjustments rather than an overhaul every year. Karl understood that while decisions have been made this season for the right reasons, fans have been feeling this for much longer than just the current season. There has to be an immediate change in policy regarding security around the manager / head coach and the contracts of players.

Connor McAleny

Karl advised that Connor is keeping his options open for next season and he wouldn’t be making a decision on whether to re-sign until the season had finished.

Barry Owen

Following the departure of Barry Owen and a number of questions from fans, we asked if Barry resigned or whether he was removed from the board, as there were contradictory messages from the club and via other parties) and also why this happened? Karl said he would prefer not to say at this stage. We did push this as a number of your queries were regarding this and clarity around this would be helpful, but ultimately we had to accept Karl’s stance on this. We asked if there were plans to replace Barry on the board, but Karl said that there are no immediate plans and that he is currently picking up the EFL correspondence and that is would generally fall to the CEO in any case.

Club Vision

At the last meeting Karl advised he was looking to pull together a vision for the club that could be agreed with the owners, but the events of more recent times have meant that this got sidetracked. That said, this will be done soon and presented to the board and to fans.

Sponsors New and Old

As mentioned above, following 2 sponsors walking away from the club mid-season, we wanted more information regarding this. We asked if there are plans to replace these sponsors as this is income that will obviously need to be replaced. Karl advised that there are some sponsors in place who are looking to renew for next season and there are others where positive meetings are ongoing. There are more meetings this week in this regard. For the front of shirt sponsor, there are agencies looking at this but no decisions have been made as yet but given where we are in the season, there is no immediate concern or need to rush this.

We were asked why the sponsors left and Karl advised that he would rather not comment at this stage but that they had chosen to leave the club and that’s all he wishes to say at this juncture. Again, while we want to push this, we have to accept Karl’s response while some areas remain outstanding and that answers may not be able to be given for legal/ contractual reasons.

Finances

Regarding finances, we asked if people were due to be paid on time etc and Karl advised that he’s not been advised anything different of late that would raise any red flags. A number of larger bills had been paid this month also which had been outstanding.

Offers for the club

There have been rumours of bids being made for the football club and this led us to ask whether Abdallah is looking to sell the club and if their heart is still in this project. Karl advised that Mo is the most passionate owner he’s come across in terms of wanting Oldham to win football matches and he’s not seen that change. Regarding bids for the club, Karl said he’s not heard about any bidders/suitors for the football club of late so that is news to him but he said that Abdallah is a very private man and he doesn’t know what goes on behind closed doors or whether he has held said talks with any potential new owners.

North Stand

The recurring nightmare which is the North Stand…. Karl said he wanted to get these seats back for fans and sort the hospitality side of things out. That’s the bit he is in control of at the current time. There was due to be a cinema evening and this has been discussed with the OEC, this was something that was initiated by the previous CEO but the idea had been shelved during lockdown. He wasn’t sure at this stage whether it would be rearranged but hadn’t been given the green light by the relevant parties.

We said that surely the owners must see the benefit of having fans in the stand and receiving money from it, rather than not using it, even if the club don’t own it. Karl agreed and said that there are things he has to do to convince the owners that this can work despite the differences in opinions. Karl said that while it doesn’t feel like a big step for supporters or from the outside, the fact that positive discussions are now taking place within the club is a huge step forward. The council are still involved in the process and the biggest requirement is to have a shared/signed document that all parties are happy to work together. This is what is being worked on. But at this time no discussions have taken place with Simon Blitz or the OEC regarding its use. We again, pushed the message that the North Stand MUST be opened for the new season and fans allowed in otherwise this would be another failure in Abdallahs reign which would further support the idea that is it time for him to source a new owner and move on.

Social media

Karl also advised that the club are partaking in the social media silence this weekend in support of the campaign around the online abuse of players and people associated with the game.

After thoughts

From the meeting a lot of questions remain unanswered. To say it is disappointing is an understatement. We want a thriving club at the heart of Oldhams community, a club fans are proud to say is theirs. It is fair to say this summer really will be a make or break for the club going forward whether we see the change we require is yet to be seen but it won’t be for a lack of trying on our part.

Calling Oldham Fans Around The World – 23/04/2021

This is a call to all Oldham fans around the globe!

Following on from our focus groups back in October a point was raised over fans living away from Oldham, whether that be in the U.K. or further afield, and what could be done to make them feel a bigger part of the OAFC family.

Latics fans have a habit of popping up in all parts of the world, from the long standing OASIS group, to our friendship with Eintracht Frankfurt, we really do get everywhere.

PTB are going to dedicate a wall on our website to you, the fans living all over the world. No matter where in the world you live send us your picture! We’d love a picture of you in your Oldham shirt or Bovis PTB shirt. This could be on your own, with your family, friends and loved ones showing off where you live!

The vast majority of us grew up with Oldham Athletic being a community/family club and we will get that back if we stand together, so let’s show the club exactly what OUR fan base is all about!!

Along with your picture, send your name and where you live (and any other details you’re happy for us to share!) to;

Info@pushtheboundary.co.uk

All pictures sent will be added to our website on the understanding you are happy with your picture and name being added.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Final Chance – 13/04/2021

Get One Before They Are Gone!

Following on from the successful sale of 193 PTB concept shirts, our supplier has provided a final number of shirts for sale. These shirts will be sold on a first come first served basis. Once they are gone no more will be made available! The sizes are as described below;

1 x Large Mens

1 x Medium Ladies

Here is the size chart for guidance;

Adult (Chest to fit size)
XS 33-35″ S 35-37″ M 37-39″ L 39-41″ XL 42-45″ 2XL 45-47.5″ 3XL 48-50″ 4XL 51-53″ 5XL 53-56″

Women (Chest to fit size)
XS 29-31″ S 32-34″ M 34-35.5″ L 36-37″ XL 37.5-39″ 2XL 39.5-40.5″

Shirts will be priced as previously advertised, £31.60 for adults + £4.99 UK P&P (as they will be required to be signed for). All profits made will go towards this seasons chosen charity Melanoma UK.

In terms of the design, you will see the classic sponsorship and attention to detail. The shirt is made from bird eye polyester and the badge is embroidered, the rest will be sublimated. A big thanks again has to go to Lendlease for allowing us to use the Bovis sponsorship.

To buy one…

Email info@pushtheboundary.co.uk with the following details:

– Quantity
– Size(s)
– Full Name
– Address (inc Postcode)

We will then email you back with a unique reference number and details of where to send your money. BACS will be the payment option.

We would strongly advise you to check your size/ measurements properly before ordering as returns will not be accepted. 

Thank you all once again for your continued support. It really does mean so much!

Another Day at BP – 01/04/2021

After digesting the various events that took place and conducted in public, we are once again left feeling exhausted by the seemingly everlasting instability at our football club.

Sponsors:

Following weeks of rumoured unrest amongst a number of sponsors, we are not surprised to see that these sponsors (and first and foremost, fans) feel that they are left with no choice but to remove financial support for the football club. Having heard a number of rumours as to the circumstances, the fact they feel that the need to walk away from the club, all feels far too familiar and symptomatic of the previous 3 years ownership. Something we have raised from the start of PTB.

Barry Owen:

Although, we are not aware of the facts as to why Barry Owen has left/been removed as a director of the football club, it has been of no secret that the board of directors has been a massive sense of frustration for Latics fans and there is a strong argument that changes were needed in order for us to even contemplate moving forward. There was consternation that Barry retained his seat on the board of directors when the new regime took control of the club from Simon Corney back in January 2018. Before and during Barry’s time as a director of the club, the club has suffered unparalleled reputational damage over such a sustained period of time. There were off-the-field matters including the Lee Hughes/Ched Evans saga and various comments which left us as supporters feeling confused and disillusioned. Decisions made at board level that leave Oldham Athletic in the position we find ourselves today. This combined with his apparent involvement with the closure of the North Stand (still to be fully resolved). During this period, fans have steadily walked away from the club while it suffers a steady decline.

Therefore, Barry Owen leaving the board of directors, we feel has been a long time coming and is even possibly overdue.

 

Stepping back into the context of yesterday, we do not know the chain of events that led to Barry leaving, so it remains incredibly tough to provide an update to the contrary. That said, we will try and find out the information and will update fans once received.

The bigger picture in place here still leaves the club looking in a perilous state. We still occupy an underwhelming league position, yet more sponsors have walked away from the football club and the North Stand saga continues with little/no development on getting the stand open and fully functional.

Yesterdays events only act as a reminder that we need to unite as a fanbase and rest assured we are doing everything we can to bring the club to task as well as represent many supporters’ thoughts and feelings. If you do have any queries please let us know and we will do our best to respond in good time.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Time for Unity – 30/03/2021

Let’s take a step back to July 2020…

– Recent court date regarding unpaid rent/debenture totalling £700k
– Dino Maarmria sacked and replaced instantly by Harry Kewell
– 6 contracted players
– An agreement in principle to buy the stadium
– North Stand closed
– 1450 season tickets sold

This was the situation we were faced with last summer and understandably fans were unsure as to what lay ahead in terms of the pandemic and on the field matters.

If we look at our current situation…

– Keith Curle replaced Harry Kewell until the end of the 2020/21 season
– We are due to have 10 contracted players on 1 July 2021
– A further drop in season tickets looks increasingly likely
– No visible movement on the stadium purchase
– The North Stand is still shut

It is yet another season that passes us by where there is a distinct lack of progress. Another managerial change, more player disputes and one of the worst league finishes in our history. All things sadly symptomatic of the current ownership.

We crave stability on and off the pitch, and we feel opportunities have been missed to build a strong, stable squad that will only need a tweak in the summer, rather than the complete overhaul we have seen in recent years.

There have been very brief moments this season when we have had the playoffs in sight but ultimately our highest league position has been 12th, we have the worst defence and outside of the 2 teams rooted to the bottom of division, the worst goal difference in the entire league.

While league football is our bread and butter, we have to accept that it is stability off the pitch that truly lays the foundations for success on it. This was highlighted very recently by Brentford Bees United Chairman Stewart Purvis when he appeared on the Boundary Park Alert System podcast (BPAS);

“When you look back through some of the history of Brentford, all that appears is whether we went up or down in the league, what they don’t chronicle is how much debt the club was in and other catastrophes that were going on off-the-field. Yes, you could look at it in a way of supporters were happy when the club was going up and supporters were then unhappy when the club were going down but the core of the club and the business was always on fragile ground and what Bees United focused on was that, instead of the club going up or down”

This only serves to highlight the need for a clear vision executed by the right people and backed by an owner willing to intelligently invest personal wealth. This as well as navigating the transfer market strategically (James Tarkowski being signed for £350k and subsequently sold for £7m being one of many examples of this).

Has it all been bad? Of course not. The Community Trust continue to do amazing work and we have been offered what is a very good season ticket offer. What will define how many season tickets we sell will be the vision offered by the board, not by the offer currently under people’s noses.

We have had better engagement, certainly a distinct improvement on the 12 months prior, where we received nothing but radio silence on most issues. On the day to day issues such as our financial position and commercial initiatives pushed by the club have been heard.

Sadly we are yet to see any clear movement on the key issues that determined 89% of you to conclude Abdallah Lemsagam was not the man to take us forward and it’s hard to see where any lessons have been learnt.

Another positive is that we believe our collective voice has been heard more this year than at any other point under the current regime. Both locally and nationally via podcasts, radio, magazines & newspapers, more and more fans and clubs are becoming aware of our struggle, regardless of how many people try and defend the actions of the current owners, trying paint the last 3 years to be anything other than what it is, an unmitigated failure.

So, what do we do next…?

We have seen many calls for a united fanbase, something which was repeatedly raised in our working groups and while we appreciate that not all supporters will share the same views on some issues, the common ground is that we all want the club to be successful both on and off pitch.

As we have already mentioned via social media, we are attending the Trust Oldham monthly meeting on Wednesday 7th April and in advance of this we have made our feelings perfectly clear in that our offer of help remains and we would welcome them taking us up on this.

There are numerous ideas that we would like to discuss with the Trust, not least regarding fan ownership of the club, the ACV, fundraising for the future of the club and the fans walking away from the club in their droves and this meeting will be a good starting point.

We believe that an approach where both groups have specific goals but can operate independently, is possible and can be of benefit to the fan base. One area is that PTB can apply pressure (with the help of supporters) and the Trust have a seat in the boardroom that PTB doesn’t wish to occupy.

If supporter groups are to work together then we must share the same views for the future of our club, otherwise a clear direction can never be formed. As with anything, the first step of making things better, is to find common ground and work out what needs to be fixed. One thing is certain in our situation, and it’s that we can’t continue to sit by and accept what is happening at our club. Now is the time for supporters to act. It is for these reasons that we are asking the Trust to reach out and accept our offer of help.

We look forward to challenging but positive meeting next week and we hope to be able to report back with good news.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Melanoma UK Shirt Fundraiser – 29/03/2021

We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has bought a ‘Push The Boundary/ Melanoma UK.’ concept shirt based on the 1991/92 home shirt. We can’t wait to see you wearing them with pride!

Your kindness has raised a fantastic £3,135.93 for Melanoma UK. This will contribute to their running costs as as well as enabling them to provide a continued level of support on a daily basis to people who’s lives have been affected by this disease. Your contribution in raising this money has been truly amazing.

The values of Melanoma UK are;

* To provide patient support and assist in the awareness of the condition of malignant melanoma.
* To provide funds for vital research to prolong and preserve our patients’ quality of life.
* To educate and heighten awareness of the dangers of melanoma.

Any further donations towards Melanoma UK can be made between now and the end of the season. Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so via our donations page;

https://www.melanomauk.org.uk/donate/push-the-boundary-fundraising-page/

We hope to be able to announce further fundraising events in the not to distant future so please stay tuned. Alternatively if you have a fundraising idea you would like us to support, please contact us at info@pushtheboundary.co.uk

Thank you!

Adam, Steve, Will & Danny

Meeting with OEC – 21/03/2021

Slightly later than planned, we have now met up with Simon Brooke, the General Manager of the Oldham Event Centre.

We have taken all questions sent to us from fans around a number of issues and tried to pull together a comprehensive response. As fans, we have a right to be kept up to date regarding important issues so it’s important meetings of this nature continue to take place. We understand the gravity of the situation given that many fans are being asked to make decisions around season tickets for the 2021/22 season, without knowing whether our newest and best facility will be in use.

Firstly, we would like to add some context as to where we are. Over the last 12 months, one of the biggest talking at the club points has been the relationship between the OEC and the football club prior to and following the closure of the North Stand for matchdays in January 2020.

The survey undertaken by PTB in February 2020 highlighted that of all North Stand season ticket holders who responded (172 out of 732 respondents), only 13% of these would definitely renew for the forthcoming season. Clearly this is a key factor for fans and therefore important that we truly understand the current situation along with what needs to happen for fans to take their seats in one of the best facilities in league 2.

The club have provided information over the last few months via CEO Karl Evans, but we are yet to see any visible signs of progress towards a resolution to this matter.

There is also the issue of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) that was not signed for the 2019/20 season and therefore corporate hospitality boxes have not been in use since this point. This is potentially a significant sum of matchday revenue that is being lost by the club.

One thing that has been clear is that fans have been collateral damage through this process and this situation needs to change. In order for us to force this issue to a much needed conclusion, we need both sides of the story. This has led to this interview taking place.

As there were numerous questions around the occupation of the stadium and things of a similar nature, we asked Simon to offer a reminder of how things have been structured at Boundary Park since 2015 when the North Stand opened):
 
Simon advised that Brassbank are the landlords, they own the footprint of the Stadium and some pockets of surrounding land. OAFC have a lease for all the areas of football operation in the stadium.  This includes, Rochdale Road End (seats/concourses), Chadderton Road End (seats/concourses), North Stand (seats/concourses) and the Main Stand (seats/concourses/offices) and of course the pitch.  The club shop in the North Stand also falls under this lease. It has been like this since the North Stand was opened in 2015.

There is no separate lease payment for the North Stand seats/concourses, nor do OEC have control of these areas on matchdays.  Simon also advised that the club’s lease is a full maintenance and repair lease.  This means that it is the clubs responsibility to upkeep/keep safe any areas that fall under their leased areas.

The OEC is a hospitality business with a lease for the internal areas of the North Stand.  Again, lease in place since 2015. Glo Gym is an independent business under the Oldham Community Leisure umbrella. They have a lease in place since 2015.
 
He was keen to stress that the above situation has not changed since the stand was open in 2015 and is a matter of public record.
 
As confirmed last year by Oldham Council’s legal team, Greater Manchester Police and in the course of the legal action brought by Mr Blitz against the Club/Mr Lemsagam over unpaid rent and debenture, the leases that are in place and the processes surrounding these were proven to be correct, legally binding and without question completely legitimate.
 
As mentioned above, until the end of the 2018/19 season, the club and OEC worked under an annual SLA.  The football club have the option each year of choosing to use the hospitality facilities in the North Stand on matchdays. The SLA covers both parties on aspects of health and safety, safety operations and insurances.
 
We were advised that the OEC operates the facilities on an “at cost” basis on a matchday and within the SLA, the agreed costs per head for the provision of the food across the hospitality offerings that the club choose to sell. The club also received the income from the bar in the hospitality area minus the cost of sale and staffing etc on the day.
 
We asked if the above pricing was fixed, following comments made by the club around proposed increases ahead of the 2019/20 season. We were advised that any pricing is subject to negotiation based on what the club wanted to provide for each type of hospitality package.
 
We were advised that the football club have always set the pricing for season tickets, 100 Club, hospitality boxes and packages as well as matchday sponsors. For most of these the club received the full monies before the season kicked-off, but paid the OEC monies monthly though the season to aid the clubs cashflow.
 
We were disappointed to hear that the 2018/19 season payments for the provision of the hospitality service to OEC from the club became, at times, seriously delayed. We asked if any money was still outstanding from this period and we were told that there were still arrears in excess of £12,000 from this period.
 
It was also confirmed to us that there have been no requests from the club to talk about any hospitality usage since the beginning of the 2018/19 season (where there was a failure to reach an agreement over the SLA). This includes any talks since the new CEO was appointed.
 
Question – As OEC are leasing from Brassbank as i understand it, are there any talks on future ownership?
 
Simon confirmed that there have been no talks between anyone at the club and the owners/operators of either Brassbank or the OEC in relation to ownership of the OEC, since the offer to buy the stadium in March 2020.
 
Question – Would you agree with Karl Evans that it’s “just a few small things to sort out”?
 
We mentioned Karl’s comments about on-going talks of a positive nature. It was confirmed there haven’t been any talks with Karl to date other email correspondence between Karl and Simon Brooke, but no actual discussions have taken place regarding the opening of the stand.
 
The decision by the council in January 2020 was not to shut the stand, it was to impose a zero capacity on the seating area of the stand. The council were apparently very clear on this, as fundamentally the issues raised were not of a sufficient level to impose a prohibition notice. This would have resulted in the day-to-day OEC operations, club shop and gym having to close. It was noted that other areas of the ground were already under reduced capacity notices at the time and the capacity had been cut to under 10,000. Therefore, the club were still able to operate the same capacity despite the North Stand having a zero capacity.
 
We were advised that as OEC isn’t the safety certificate holder, the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) were unable to communicate directly with them. Any communications had to go via the Safety Certificate holder (Mr Lemsagam or any person he delegates this task to).
 
We asked if there was any outstanding work that would prevent the north stand opening again for the entry of fans. We were told that SAG have confirmed on numerous occasions, firstly in March 2020, then at the annual ground inspection that took place in July 2020, that all the required work had been completed. All the work was completed by February 2020. It was followed up to state that they can only assume the work referred to by the club/CEO is to do with work that is the responsibility of the club, certainly, if there is any further work expected of OEC/Landlord this has not been communicated by the club/safety certificate holder.
 
In light of the above, we asked what it is that actually needs to happen in order to get the North Stand open again for fans. We were advised that there are two options available to the club at the current time, the first and most simple being that the club sign the annual SLA.

The second option is that the club choose not to use the hospitality areas but sign a “Joint Operational Agreement.” with the OEC. The OEC submitted this to SAG in December 2019 and it was accepted. It requires the club to sign this and SAG will remove the zero capacity and the stand can re-open.

We asked if discussions had taken place with the club around the joint operational agreement and the OEC confirmed that the club have refused to enter into discussions and would only agree to a meeting if the clubs own operational agreement was signed in advance. We asked what the difference was between both documents and were told that one condition the OEC was unhappy with was to allow the club to have full control over who the OEC could employ and allow access to the building. This included full time staff. It was admitted by the OEC that if the condition to sign the document prior to any meeting taking place had been removed, they would happily have discussed this face to face in order to discuss any issues and sign the agreement.

Simon went on to add that (as is common knowledge), he is a lifelong Oldham fan, as are many people who are currently employed by the OEC. They are all desperate to get the stand open again and being able to contribute to the match-day experience so that it’s potential can be truly fulfilled. The reason the fans bar (in the North Stand) was originally set up, was to give fans a place to go before and after games and he felt this was a success while it was in operation.
 
Question- As the North Stand is owned by Brassbank (who are Directors of OEC) ask them for a copy of the Oldham Council Safety team audit that forced the Council to shut the Stand down until the safety non compliances were made good

We were advised that because the club are the safety certificate holder, they receive this document (not the OEC), it is therefore their responsibility to release this should they wish. PTB will speak to the club regarding this matter.

Question – If an agreement cannot be reached over the club using the stand will they be removing the suite from the footprint over which they control on the safety certificate to allow that facility to open independently?

We were advised that the landlord has already made the request to SAG last year for this to happen and is currently awaiting a response.

There was a question asked around a ‘pound for a pint’ scheme in the OEC when fans are allowed back but they didn’t feel this was appropriate to answer at the current time given the current landscape in terms of the pandemic.

We would like to thank Simon for his time and also accommodating the change to the date and time of the meeting at such short notice.

We have arranged with Simon to re-convene at a later date in order to be provided with correspondence that would support some of these answers. We will also look to gain more information around the questions we didn’t get to ask. We feel that the issues regarding the closure of the North Stand need addressing immediately and we will therefore contact the club to try and accelerate this process.

We will also look to follow up with any subsequent questions that this may meeting may generate.

As ever, PTB will continue to strive towards gaining a full understanding in the best interests of Oldham Athletic supporters.

If you wish to contact us following this, please do not hesitate to do so via the usual methods.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

March Meeting with CEO – 12/03/2021

Yesterday evening we sat down and had a zoom call with club CEO, Karl Evans. We appreciate Karl moving the date forward at our request following news this week of Harry Kewell being sacked and being replaced by Keith Curle. The reason for this was to address concerns raised by fans around the long term strategy of the club and a continuation of the ‘revolving door’ policy that sees the 9th manager of the Lemsagam’s reign.

We made a note of your questions and while we haven’t adopted the Q&A format below and despite the lengthy meeting, we couldn’t get through absolutely everything in the time we had, we hope you find a response to the queries you raised.

Keith Curle / Harry Kewell

With regards to Keith, Karl said he has the profile of a Manager/ Head Coach that should fit with our club. He’s very professional, knows the league and has won promotion from League Two with Northampton and got in the playoffs with Carlisle United. He has come in and wants to talk to people. He’s already spoken with the Community Trust and attended meetings about the Academy, so he is already showing he wants to be hands on in the overall structure of the club.

Karl advised there is only so much he can say as things are ongoing with regards to formalities involving Harry and his departure, but he did say it’s a results based business and unfortunately we are 17th in league 2. He advised that 11 home defeats is not great at any level and some of the performances had dipped at the same time. Our home form put massive pressure on the away form and given some of the performances, there was definitely an expectation that we should have been doing better, not least amongst the fanbase. We went on to say that the expectation may not be down to the quality of the squad we actually have, but of the overall standard of the division, which is very poor.

The deal with Curle will be reviewed but it was a mutual decision that a short term contract was offered. Keith is based in the north so locality works. Karl went on to say that Keith is an intelligent guy and he’s sure that if he’s heard the rumours about the club prior to joining this may have been a reason for an element of doubt. He has however been able to make his own opinions on everything. We advised that if we can tie him down early following a few decent results then it removes any doubt about the future and may even help the mood of fans, especially when it comes to the sale of season tickets. He thought the press conference was positive and Keith came across well.

We asked that given the style Keith Curle likes to adopt as a manager and the length of time he is contracted to the club, is he hampered by the fact he won’t have players to suit his preferred formation? Karl didn’t think that Keith would be judged solely on results especially so early on and that it’s something of a free hit for both parties which gives the opportunity for both to take a look at each other.

There has been the ongoing issues surrounding the role of the Sporting Director and who will have the final say on recruitment. We therefore (on behalf of fans) had to ask about the working relationship with Mohammed Lemsagam. Karl advised that Keith is definitely his own man, an example of this is that even though the relationship is good with Nicky Adams (Curle recently managed Adams at Northampton), he has taken the captaincy off him and given it straight to Carl Piergianni for the first game against Port Vale. Karl advised that Mohammed Lemsagam under Harry Kewell had taken a step back in terms of the recruitment of players and this had been left to Harry to undertake. This still raises questions as to how this role is still needed or evidence to support its existence. We will maintain a watching brief on this matter as numerous concerns were raised around this by fans.

It has been noted by fans that Mohammed Lemsagam has outlasted yet another manager despite recruitment being so poor in the last few years. It was challenged by Karl that recruitment has been better of late but there was also an acknowledgement after we challenged this that there wasn’t enough balance in the squad, no real depth and too many wide players or players being played in positions not suited to them. PTB also commented that in recent seasons, managers have not been given sufficient transfer windows to really build their own squad (Richie Wellens, Dino Maarmria, Pete Wild were all not given summer windows to recruit) and that the short term nature of Keith Curle’s contract could see the same issue arise once more.

We spoke of our concerns around a squad for next year and that while we acknowledge the shortfalls of Harry as a manager, if the owners truly didn’t see him as the long term man, would it not make sense to tie Keith down to a longer contract and then we can start to give players the belief that there is some structure and stability for next season, in the hope that they commit their future to the club (Bahamboula & McAleny especially). Karl acknowledged and said it was a valid point to raise, but also said to keep an eye out for news from the club today on the matter of contracts. He alluded to 2 bits of news regarding players which he has advised should be announced today. David Wheater’s departure has already been announced and the recent update of Bahamboula, Diarra and Jameson extending their contracts has been announced  

Karl went on to say that in terms of any potential “interference” from the Sporting Director, he genuinely hasn’t seen the behaviour that Mohammed Lemsagam has been accused of since his time at the club, based on his observations.

Club Matters

We asked regarding the furlough situation, whether we still have any staff members taking advantage of this scheme? Karl advised that we still have a couple of people in maintenance but nothing more. These people are also having the wages topped up from the standard 80% to 100% by the club. There was also mention previously of academy staff being on furlough but have since all returned to their roles.

Season Tickets

The club announced on Thursday that they had sold 426 season tickets to date. Karl was hugely encouraged with regards to this. They sold another 47 today (Thursday) which was seen as excellent after only 11 days of sales, especially when we have sacked a manager, had 2 draws and a defeat during that period. He also wanted to point out that the number is definitely correct (after seeing comments around this on social media) and he doesn’t have time to make numbers up.

After being asked by fans around the stability at the club in view of another managerial change, whether this will hamper the sale of season tickets, especially in view of Keith Curle only being on a short term contract. Karl didn’t believe that it would be a factor but also admitted that there were other areas that could affect this number from being higher than it currently is.

North Stand Update

We stated once again that it’s crucial that this is resolved in good time before the season starts especially if they want to sell a good proportion of season tickets. Karl acknowledged this and said that while he can’t say too much, very sensible conversations have taken place with the OEC and there is a desire on both sides to get this working from an operational perspective. Karl feels he can work with the relevant people to make this happen. He said he wants fans in seats and the fan bar full before and after a game as well as other initiatives around the ground to improve the matchday experience once fans have returned. He said it’s unfortunate what’s happened in the past and he’s tried to be respectful of that but he’s here to take the club forward. He reiterated there was desire on both sides to make this happen.

LED Advertising Hoardings

We asked Karl about the LED boards that were not working near to the Rochdale Road End. This is due to a part which is required but is coming from China, so may take time in arriving.

Academy

Karl mentioned the academy team and the great run they are on after a poor start. Youth players don’t have that natural step into the first team and at the moment the club aren’t able to blood them via loan moves to non-league teams. He spoke highly of Vani da Silva and Junior Luamba (amongst others) and how they have progressed through the season in terms of their appearances on the pitch and their attitude off it. This is credit to Paul Murray.

The Future & Club “Vision”

Karl has said that now he has been here for a period of time, he wants to pull together a document of the clubs new Vision, for the owners about the future of the club, what he feels is required and how he feels we need to push forward. This combined with the personnel required in order to make it happen. He wants to take the owners view on where they want the club to be and bring it to life. He feels in a better position to do this now as he has been here for a good period of time. He feels a lot of CEO’s in football don’t truly understand the community aspect of a football club but he very much values this and wants the club to live and breathe it from top to bottom. We asked why the owners aren’t pulling together this document and he responded that it’s not something that they would do.

Karl mentioned that he has come in and whilst he has tried to be respectful about what has happened previously he has tried to move things on in his own way as if we stand still and do nothing to change, the club will just continue on the continual decline that the club has been on for many years.

Talks have taken place at the club around a loyalty card scheme. Things such as extra money off in the club shop, when you buy so many drinks you get one free in the ground and reduced ticket prices for different games. Talks are still very much in their primacy but the club will release further details on this when they can.

Shirt Sponsors

According to Karl, we have 2 or 3 potential shirt sponsors bubbling but not to the point where a deal will be done just yet. It’s more difficult when you can’t get sponsors in the ground and show them the benefits of being on board etc.

Financial Matters

After being posed the question, Karl confirmed that everyone was paid on time in February and he doesn’t envisage any issues for March. We have received more Hummel royalty money following shirt sales at Christmas.

We raised the issue of the government sport survival funding, a pot of £600m that is available to clubs in lower and non-league and being monitored by Sport England. One of the stipulations of this loan is that before any football club can be sold, the loan has to be paid back in full. We raised our concerns that if we were to accept this, it could be overly punitive with regards to any future sale of the club. Karl advised that he has not heard of this funding and has no knowledge that we are interested in this, but would take the information away.

Following our last update and the information that came to light regarding Hotel Rooms 4 U (Director Barry Owen also being a Director at HR4U) it had been brought to our attention that Karl himself was a director at another company. We asked Karl regarding this and he advised that it was a consultancy business that he set up when he left Manchester United. During his recent time with Harrogate, Salford and Bury, it was under the guise of his consultancy business. Karl confirmed that he is now on the payroll at Oldham Athletic and that this company is now dormant and may look to close it down.

Once again we thank Karl for his time and his views on matters at the club. Karl acknowledged that it will take time to build trust with supporters again after the last few years but that he wanted to try and do so for the good of the Football Club and the fan base. He advised that he definitely underestimated the strength of feeling and disconnection amongst supporters upon his appointment but now feels a lot more educated on various matters which allows him to excerpt more influence to make changes.

For the queries that we didn’t have time to get to, please know that we have retained all questions and will ensure they are raised at the next meeting.

We hope that you have found the update informative, once again if you have any queries or concerns, please just let us know via the usual means.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

David Wheater – 12/03/2021

There was a huge amount of excitement when David joined the club from Bolton on 1 August 2019 and he was immediately made captain for the 2019/20 season. He came with a wealth of experience after playing for Middlesbrough, Doncaster (loan), Wolves (loan), Darlington (loan) & Bolton Wanderers. He went on to make 34 appearances in his first year with the club, scoring 4 goals in that time.

Following numerous rumours that gathered strength over the summer of 2020, we pushed for the club to address this matter and on 21/09/2020 a statement was released to state that both David Wheater (and colleague Gary Woods) would “no longer be a part of the First Team squad”.

On 30/10/2020, PTB launched the campaign to “Freewheatz” and as a fanbase we tried valiantly to get David back in contention for selection for the first team. This was even more pertinent at a time when we were conceding goals at an alarming rate and David’s experience at leading a backline was sorely missed. This campaign received national attention and this is something that as fans, we should be incredibly proud of.

After a long line of player disputes at the club in recent times, we can only hope that in future, disputes of this nature and longevity, can be kept to the bare minimum and resolved quickly and professionally. We have already placed on record our disappointment at how the entire matter was handled by the club over the last 6 months and we can only hope that lessons have been learnt from all concerned.

We thank David for the professionalism he showed throughout, at what must have been incredibly difficult circumstances for him personally, not being offered the opportunity to play regular first team football since he started his professional playing career in 2005/06. While it is certainly not the outcome we wanted in terms of the players future with our club, we are very happy that the matter has now been resolved and that both parties, especially David & his family, can move on and David can enjoy the remainder of his career elsewhere.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Kewell Sacking – 07/03/2021

Good evening Latics fans,

Richie Wellens – Sept 17 – June 18.
Frankie Bunn – June 18- Dec 18.
Pete Wild – Dec 18 – Feb 19.
Paul Scholes – Feb 19 – March 19.
Pete Wild – March 19 – May 19.
Laurent Banide – June 19 – Sept 19.
Dino Maamria – Sept 19 – July 20.

…Harry Kewell

Here we go again. The revolving door at Boundary Park continues to spin. As a club (and ultimately as a fanbase) we are set to enter another period of uncertainty, another period of change. In the last few years, managers have come and gone in quick succession but the one constant that it is impossible to ignore is that the custodians of this club continue to act without thought to the legacy they are destroying with each passing moment they are at the helm. What also stands out is how the current structure at the club, in terms of recruitment and the working relationship between the head coach/sporting director is not working.

Usually when a manager leaves his position, either of his own volition or if he is released by the club, it usually brings with it the opportunity to enter a new era, to have a fresh start and push forwards. Sadly with our club in more recent years, especially under the regime of the Lemsagams, it just feels inevitable that change and/or controversy is always just around the corner.

With regards to Harry’s reign at the club, we never saw ‘his’ team live and he never saw us in the stands at Boundary Park. Harry had very recently spoken of the “perfect relationship” working with the Sporting Director so it yet again begs the question as to how we find ourselves here. We can and we are sure we will debate whether we were making visible signs of progress under Harry Kewell on the pitch. The playoffs were drifting well out of sight and you could sense understandable frustration starting to build amongst the fanbase.

It is impossible to ignore that despite questionable recruitment over the last 3 years, it is yet again the Sporting Director who outlasts the head coach and there appears to be no sign of that changing. How can we push forward as a club when there is no accountability from the person who has overseen recruitment in one of the darkest periods for our club.

Our club needs an urgent overhaul of the footballing structure before a new head coach/ manager is brought in. For the integrity of the club, the town and the long suffering fans it represents, we are calling on Abdallah and Mohammed Lemsagam to rethink their current “vision” for the club. We will be contacting the club to ask for an explanation as to what has led us to this position. Let us be perfectly clear, this is not about Harry Kewell, it is about the disdain with which fans are being treated, yet again.

Whoever is next through the door give them the opportunity to do it their way without interference and free from sporting director control. Only then will we see change.

As always, we are here for any queries you may have but we can assure you all that we are just as angry, disappointed and despondent at having to write such a statement yet again. It feels like yet another massive step backwards in the 125th year in existence of our great club.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

HotelsRooms 4 U Update – 23/02/2021

Following on from our February meeting with the CEO, we have received welcomed contact and a detailed explanation with evidence from Hotelrooms4u director Michael Halliwell to offer some clarity on the overall situation. Michael confirmed the club does not pay for this service and it is purely a commission settlement between each hotel provider and Hotelrooms4u. Evidence has been provided to confirm contracts are between each hotel and the club. We thank Michael for reaching out and understanding especially given the last 12 months that transparency and honesty is vital in building trust with the fanbase and is a major component to how we believe the club we all love, should be run. Michael has also provided fans with the following update and background to Hotelrooms4u;

“I have 25 years experience in both professional sport and the hospitality industries. I first started arranging travel for golf professionals after I had finished competing myself. Through time, it evolved into arranging travel on a worldwide basis for corporate clients. Through my contacts and eventually through buying power it allowed me access to substantially discounted fares and hotel rates. I was involved for many years organising travel for the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United (this was mainly directors and staff travel such as flights for scouts and coaches as they kept the team travel in-house), Liverpool, Everton, Spurs and Rangers as a partner to Thomas Cook Sports. As you can imagine, booking accommodation for football clubs is quite complex and time consuming as their requirements are very specific especially when it comes to the food, meal times, private dining facilities, meeting rooms for team talks, physio room etc. and also requires a degree of discretion. I had purposely avoided many of the lower league clubs because quite frankly it wasn’t worth exposing ourselves to the risk of not getting paid, especially as I had a bad experience from arranging Bury FC’s pre-season tour to Portugal and also struggling to get paid by a Scottish Premier League side under a previous owner.”

“18 months ago during a conversation with the football club, I was asked by the Sporting Director and the Chairman whether I would look at how they procured travel and see if it was possible to make any savings as they felt their hotel costs were particularly high. Having done an analysis alongside the FD, it was decided savings were possible and that they also needed to be looking at more venues as options. This didn’t mean lowering the standards but I would be able to give them access to a greater number of options at reduced prices”

“It was agreed that I would work alongside the MD, Club Secretary and Head Coach at the time for each away game, whether it was a pre-match meal en-route or an overnight stay and I would liaise with the venues and once the club decided which option worked for them I would ask the venue to arrange a contract between the venue and the football club. No contract would involve myself and the club would pay the venue directly by pro-forma invoice. As is standard in our industry, the venue would pay us a commission on the total bill.”

“I was doing this as a favour and therefore I agreed to give the club back a percentage of the commission I was paid in the form of sponsorship giving them a further saving on away travel. I have done this by joining the Business Club, I have sponsored George Blackwood for this season (albeit in another company name which I subsequently decided I didn’t like) and have made other payments which the club has invoiced me for as a generic sponsorship.”

“In my time working with the club, Oldham Athletic have only ever made 2 payments to either myself or the company. One was when Shahed asked me to book flights from Australia to Manchester for George Blackwood after he had been quoted a quite ridiculous price from a 3rd party website. I was able to book the flights which were rather complex given we were in the midst of a lockdown from Perth to Melbourne to Abu Dhabi to Manchester and to return to Australia at the end of May 2021 at a price some £2k less than the club had been quoted. I did these flights at cost price to ourselves with no mark-up added on and the club paid the company by credit card after I had provided an invoice. There was one other occasion prior to Christmas whenu a hotel was chasing payment for an overnight stay which I paid. In fairness to Shahed he made a BACS payment to me several days later for the full amount”

In response to the queries around Barry Owens business interest/ conflict of interest;

“With regard to Mr Owen, he was made a Director of the company only about 9 days previous to your meeting with the CEO. As you will be aware, it is quite normal to be trading as a sole trader prior to renaming the company and registering as a limited company. I was going to trade this part of the business as a sole trader but having decided to develop this business and bring in existing clients to the new company I had a number of offers of investment. Mr Owen has no day to day involvement in the company.”

“I understand the need for clarification given he is a Director of the football club but as I said it was only a matter of a couple of weeks ago and he has notified the Chairman and other board members. To my knowledge, there has not been a board meeting at the club since Mr Owen made the decision to become a shareholder and I’ve no doubt it will be clarified at the next board meeting.”

Should supporters have any questions in relation to the update by all means let us know and these questions can be asked. The more transparency within the club and between the fan base can only be seen as a positive.

Regards

PTB

February Meeting with CEO – 20/02/2021

Good Morning Latics Fans,

On Wednesday evening, Push The Boundary spoke with CEO Karl Evans as part of the agreed monthly meetings designed to improve communications between the club and the supporters. Please see below our update on various aspects of Oldham Athletic Football Club both on and off the pitch.

On The Pitch:

Karl stated that he was enjoying watching the entertaining football that Latics are playing. He mentioned to Mo at Forest Green when 2-0 adrift, saying that “we could still win this game” and that our attacking play is extremely exciting. Karl felt with the chances we created, we could and maybe should have won the game at Forest Green but we conceded goals at crucial times during the game.

The club very much believe that playoffs remain a possibility as there isn’t much between all the teams in the division. It would only take a good run of results, similar to Bolton’s recent form to get ourselves back in the mix and with the attacking players at our disposal, we are capable of doing so. Karl went onto say that we have to play 5 of the bottom 7 teams at Boundary Park and hopes that combined with winnable away games, we could form a run to take us in and around the playoffs.

PTB asked, following a few comments, regarding the club and its goalkeeping coach position. It was confirmed that the club do not have a full time goalkeeping coach. An ex-professional goalkeeper comes in to work with the goalkeepers once or twice a week. Karl admitted that mistakes made by goalkeepers are highlighted at any level as they usually lead to the conceding of goals. Karl did acknowledge Lawlor has saved us at times over the season including saving penalties in away wins at Cambridge United and Newport County at vital stages of the game.

Transfer Window:

Albeit, we were not very active on transfer deadline day itself, Karl pointed out the transfer window is about the whole month rather than the last day. When asked, Karl confirmed that the club were close to replacing striker Danny Rowe but advised us that the player chose to stay put and fight for his place at his current club. Karl wasn’t too sure how close we got to signing a central defender.

Karl was happy with the transfer window overall as it saw us bring in much needed experience in Marcel Hillsner and Nicky Adams whilst also signing Marcus Barnes and Serhat Tasdemir. It was confirmed that the club received five figure fees for both Danny Rowe and Tom Hamer and felt the latter needed a new challenge away from Boundary Park leaving with well-wishes from everybody at the club on his new challenge at Burton Albion.

Extending Contracts:

Karl confirmed that it is widely publicised that the club has an option on Dylan Bahamboula for 2021/22 season. In regards to Conor McAleny, Karl expressed his disappointment with Bradford City for their interim manager naming McAleny in his press conference as one of his transfer targets in January. He said that it wasn’t fair on the club or on the individual and has been addressed with Bradford. The club are keen on keeping Conor McAleny however he is scoring a lot of goals and is only 28/29 years of age so may well choose to leave his options open until the summer.

We then raised our concerns with Karl around whether there will be a major overhaul in the summer following comments made by Harry Kewell in the Q&A held by Trust Oldham that he came in needing to build a whole squad due to numbers he inherited. Karl didn’t think that this would be the case as we have 7 or 8 players contracted beyond the summer of 2021, we have options on 4 or 5 other players plus any youth team players who may be offered professional contracts. There will undoubtedly be movement but not to the degree in which Harry Kewell says he inherited.

When questioned regarding Harry Kewell’s contact, the club confirmed that he is contracted until the end of this current season rather than a rolling contract. From Karl’s perspective, he would hope that there would be some continuity. Karl did however state that if the owner and directors decided that it wasn’t working then that is their prerogative and ultimately their decision.

New Badge / Kit:

Karl confirmed that the new kit and new badge would be revealed together at a later stage of this season. He has seen all the kit, training gear etc and in his opinion it looks good. Karl did note that the kit deal with Hummel remains until 2024 and that he has been impressed with the deal put in place commercially by the club with Hummel and is very happy with the outcome of the designs put to the club for next season.

We raised the idea of playing in the new kit on the last game of this season, something which had been done for many years previous but due to contractual agreements for this season with current sponsors, it maybe problematic.

Financials:

In relation to income, fees have been received in January for Danny Rowe and Tom Hamer as well as royalties from Hummel and also a small transfer sell-on amount for Courtney Duffus which has yet to have been paid.

Karl advised that the club receive money for some staff being on Furlough and that the club placed some academy staff from under 9’s to under 16’s on Furlough due to not being able to train/play games under the current restrictions. The club to their credit, are, however topping up their wages to 100%. This was acknowledged as a positive step.

The club’s iFollow amount, set to be received this month, will be slightly less but is expected to be over £30,000 and a basic award will be received that they receive every month.

All being well, all wages will be paid, as they have been every month this season, on time which includes everybody at the club. Karl did however state it remains a struggle but acknowledged that it is the same for everybody in the football league.

The club are now awaiting further clarification from the EFL regarding the £20m pot that could become available to clubs if they meet certain criteria. This would be in terms of a loan but is repayable over a longer period. When asked whether the club would look to take up this option should the club meet that criteria, Karl was not able to confirm as he didn’t know at this stage. The club are also looking into claiming under their Business Interruption insurance policy as a result of the pandemic.

Away Travel:

Following some questions from supporters raised to ourselves, PTB asked who provided the travel for away games. Karl advised that Goodwin’s provide the coaches and any games that they choose to stay overnight at, Mike Halliwell provided this assistance through his company.

Questions were raised from a few supporters on social media regarding this when the company was named as “Hotel Rooms 4 u Limited”. Karl confirmed that this was the company that the club used for outsourcing the bookings for hotels at overnight away games. The directors stated on Companies House for this company are named as Michael Halliwell and club director Barry Owen.

We raised our initial concerns regarding this as to the cost implication for the club. At the time of the meeting, Karl wasn’t aware of a club director being a director of this company. We left these concerns with Karl.

Season Tickets & North Stand:

PTB stated that the feedback from supporters regarding season ticket prices was encouraging for the club and that the prices were very fair and deserved credit. We raised the point from a meeting with the previous Managing Director who stated that season ticket money received should be seen as a “bonus”. Karl advised that Season Tickets are high up on the agenda and the marketing campaign will be focused on driving numbers for next season. When asked what the aim is for the amount of season tickets to be sold for next season, Karl advised that he would like to think we could sell between 2500-3000.

The North Stand, Karl could not provide much of an update but advised that it was at a “good but sensitive stage” and expressed the desire from the club as well as other parties to get the issues resolved. Karl did also acknowledge that the North Stand being open and available to supporters would inevitably boost season ticket numbers.

Commercial Department:

PTB acknowledged the good quality update from the commercial department and requested more updates from the club like this.

The LED boards are back working and should be on for the next home game (Barrow on Tuesday 23 February 2021). Separately, Oldham Vending have advised that they would step aside from being a shirt sponsor but Karl hopes that they will continue being a sponsor of the club in some capacity. This provides an opportunity to the commercial department to strike a deal with a more lucrative sponsor.

Regarding the stadium naming rights, Karl acknowledged that the commercial update that was released, was premature and he held his hands up, as he hadn’t asked the landlords permission for this to be offered out. This has since been rectified with the landlords and there is no issue with this being offered as a potential sponsorship opportunity.

Once again, we thank Karl Evans for his time on Wednesday evening. As ever, should you have any ideas, suggestions, thoughts and/or concerns about the club, please do not hesitate to contact ourselves through the various social media platforms or via email to info@pushtheboundary.co.uk

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Panorama Documentary – 04/02/2021

Push The Boundary are aware of and have also been contacted by fans who viewed the recent BBC Panorama documentary ‘Boxing & The Mob’ which aired on Monday evening.

A number of allegations were made during the programme and while we would prefer not to comment specifically on any of these (they are already in the public domain), there are areas we feel need to be addressed from the perspective of being an Oldham Athletic supporter.

The main concern raised by supporters and as a fans group of the club is an existing and ongoing business link between a current board member/club solicitor Adam Morallee and the subject of the documentary. We wanted to avoid any situations where there is even a possibility that the club could be brought into disrepute or receive any avoidable negative press. The club has received too much of this in the last few years.

We raised these concerns with the club on Tuesday (02/02/2021) in the hope that they can put the minds of fans at rest and/or address these allegations.

We want to stress that these are purely allegations at this stage but these have created enough concern to warrant further questions being asked.

The club responded quickly to us which is greatly appreciated and to their credit have provided us with the following update;

1. Brandsmiths, the firm Adam founded, acts for Daniel Kinahan in relation to the bringing a libel action on his behalf against newspapers and broadcasters. The firm is one of the top London firms for media and libel matters and its clients include including Mo Farah and Gordon Ramsay.

2. S-Jam, the boxing company that Adam founded, has a relationship with MTK. Other companies including Sky, ESPN, Matchroom/Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren also have a relationship with MTK. Daniel Kinahan exited MTK some time ago.

PTB would advise supporters against making potentially libellous comments on any form of social media. Adam has seen comments like “Adam has business interests with crime lord Daniel Kinahan”. He has advised us that this is categorically untrue and that he is running his businesses, which he started from scratch, in a totally legal way. He does not want to take legal action against people online, particularly Oldham fans, but if that allegation is repeated he will have to take action to protect his own reputation.’

No supporter wants to see this happen and as we have already said, we stress that these are purely allegations contained in the documentary.

We thank Karl Evans and Adam Morallee for engaging with us on this sensitive subject.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

January Meeting with CEO – 22/01/2021

On Thursday evening we had our first meeting of 2021 with club CEO Karl Evans. These are in place to promote more regular fan engagement and to allow fans to be kept in the loop of what is happening behind the scenes at their football club. This has been refreshing from the club and well received given the lack of communication from the previous Managing Director.

Following Karl’s appearance on The Boundary Park Alert System on Monday, we asked fans for any follow up questions ahead of the meeting. Thanks to all that responded and while we couldn’t get through absolutely everything in our 3 hour call, we tried to obtain as much detail on the matters you see as the biggest concerns.

It was an eventful week where, on the pitch, we drew 1-1 away at Walsall after a late equaliser by Davis Keillor-Dunn. Disappointingly, we have seen striker Danny Rowe sign for Bradford for an undisclosed fee after just over 12 months at the club, news which has not been received positively by fans of the club and the strength of feeling is there for all to see.

Danny Rowe

Karl went straight into the recent events surrounding Danny Rowe’s transfer to Bradford. We advised Karl of fans disappointment at the move given there was no one lined up to replace him and our position in the league, we thought this could have been timed better. With funds across football extremely tight, Karl suggested If you get offered money for a player out of contract at the end of the season you have to consider taking it. Danny was getting to the end of his contract and it was unclear whether he would have extended his stay beyond this. Harry Kewell has also sanctioned the move. There was a suggestion that Players can get injured and you may lose out on potential money, which at this current time the club cannot do without. Karl advised that there are lots of names being banded around in terms of a replacement for Danny Rowe. Karl confirmed we made a slight profit in the 12 months he played for us and we received a 5-figure sum from Bradford for his transfer.

We asked if this could mean the departure of other key players if indeed we are looking to cash in during the window? He advised that Bradford also asked about the availability of Conor McAleny but this was knocked back by the club so this isn’t necessarily the case. He also didn’t rule out more movements in/out over the remainder of the transfer window.

There is a rumour about the EFL bailout preventing clubs from accepting or paying money for transfers. Karl advised this was incorrect and under the terms, we are not embargoed in the transfer market. This was due to us paying back the initial bailout of £50,000, when the £250,000 payment came in. Some clubs paid back and some didn’t. There is also the £20m hardship money that is yet to be distributed amongst league clubs, but there has been no final decision on this and how it will be distributed as of yet, as league meetings continue to discuss the different ideas.

David Wheater – #freewheatz

Regarding David Wheater, Karl advised prior to the meeting that he didn’t want to answer questions related to the ongoing saga and while it was obviously disappointing (a large number of your questions were related to this subject) we had to respect that as it’s an on the field matter that doesn’t necessarily fall under his remit. He did advise on the podcast that say that he doesn’t believe David Wheater would play again for the club and he also believes that David shares that view.

We advised that while we are conceding goals and David remains at the club, the speculation is unlikely to go away so we asked if there was any way to end the speculation in terms of his future that would give fans (and the player) a resolution? Karl believed that the next statement and/or move by the club would do this, but the club aren’t quite in a position to deliver this just yet.

We alluded to the fact that at the current time there is a lot of focus from the club and Community Trust around mental health and well-being during a global pandemic and does the clubs actions of sending an experienced professional to train away from his peers/colleagues contradict any message being conveyed by the club and the Community Trust. Karl recognised this and was hoping that the issue would be resolved in the very near future.

Financials

The club had a decent December for ifollow. It should be somewhere between £40-50k (double what came in November). There is also some royalty money from Hummel on the way. Karl was pleased with the deal that was completed in 2019 with Hummel which has been favourable for the club, stating it was one of the better deals put in place. We also received a sell on fee for Courtney Duffus of £6,000, for his recent transfer.

After receiving a question on twitter, we asked if the club had a contingency plan in the event of Latics playing non-league football next season. Karl advised we don’t have a plan for this as they remain positive that we should be looking upwards and not down.

We asked regarding the advertising boards (and the fact they haven’t been working) and the company they are speaking to have advised they can get them operational again but their operational life is unknown. The company can operate these but would charge a match-day fee. They are currently going through the process of negotiating the fee as they believe it’s a little on the high side. Conversations have taken place as recently as Thursday morning so we should see some progress on this shortly and hopefully the boards will be operational once again.

From a financial perspective, everybody got paid in December which was positive and they are now battling with January.

Transfer Window

On the subject of undisclosed deals, we were asked on twitter why deals are (and have been) classed as ‘undisclosed’ and in the interest of being transparent, would it be worth making these public knowledge? Karl advised that this is an agreement between both clubs to not disclose a fee and there is no specific reason why we would do this. From a Bradford perspective it may be that they don’t want to be seen to be throwing money around during a pandemic but he couldn’t say for certain. “There is no hidden agenda” behind this but he admitted that it’s a growing trend across transfers in the game these days.

Karl did advise that it was very unlikely that the club would be paying any fees for players in the window. We asked about Harry Clarke as his loan expired on the 20th January. Karl advised that he would expect Harry to be signing on again for the remainder of the season. PTB asked if he would be available at weekend (ie would the deal be completed in time) and he sincerely hoped so as it’s just a loan extension and not a new deal as such. Since then it has been confirmed he has signed a new deal to stay for the rest of the season which is positive news! 

North Stand / Stadium Purchase

Karl sees that this is broken down into 3 phases. Phase 1 of the North Stand situation is getting bums on seats (regardless of ownership of the stadium), phase 2 would be getting the benefit from the use of the North Stand and phase 3 would be the ownership of the stadium and the surrounding land. Karl has reached out to Simon Brooke this week about a meeting to progress these matters and it looks like this will take place next week. There has also been correspondence with Oldham Council to understand exactly where everything is at in terms of the work that needs to be done. His understanding is that there isn’t a great deal of work required on the North Stand so it’s certainly not insurmountable.

Karl has spoken to the board around him progressing matters and there was no resistance to this meeting taking place between both parties. Karl knows there has been bad blood in the past but Karl made it clear that the North Stand is the only way the club can/will increase revenue and become more self sufficient. Karl said that if he’s not allowed to try and build bridges with the OEC and try to generate revenue from the stand, “it’s not worth him being around” as this was one of the main reasons he was attracted to working for the club. We welcome this engagement and are hopeful for the sake of supporters that the North Stand can be operational once again.

Karl feels like he’s building more of an understanding with Mohammed Lemsagam and that he feels he (Mohammed) understands that he’s “not just here to nod his head” and is helping him understand the perspective of the fans and why appearing on podcasts and engagement with fan groups is the correct thing to do. While feedback may not be good and awkward conversations take place, it has to start somewhere. Karl advised he receives a number of emails from fans and he does try to respond as it’s only fair given people have taken the time to send him a note. We backed this up and said that people do this because they care about the club and want to see it succeed.

First Team Matters

Karl advised it’s tough as we are almost putting so much pressure on our away form purely because of our home form. Under normal circumstances some of the away results recently (Walsall & Grimsby) you’d be happier with. We asked (following comments made on the podcast) if the current league position puts Kewell under any pressure? Karl said to date the squad has probably underperformed but we have also been unlucky in certain games. He said Harry should be around in his opinion as the club needs stability in order to progress. Stability brings success.

We advised the importance of tying up key players (that we want to build a side around) under deals for next season (and doing it early). In recent years we have left contract renewals, retained lists and signings for forthcoming seasons until the very last minute. We can’t keep doing this each year. Signals of intent will get bums on seats, get people to renew season tickets etc.

Fans Forum

Under normal circumstances, clubs are required to hold a minimum number of events for supporters across the season. As this has not been possible this season, it has therefore meant that there has been a lack of engagement between the supporters and Harry Kewell since his appointment in the close season.

We asked about the possibility of a Q&A with Harry Kewell whether this is via a PTB zoom call to ask him questions put forward by fans, to get him on the Boundary Park Alert System podcast or via an event directly linked with supporters. We are conscious that Karl gets a lot of questions about first team matters and this would remove the requirement and allow Harry to build a rapport with supporters, something that we don’t believe has consistently happened as yet. Karl will look into this possibility and come back to us. Before we were able to ask the question, Karl advised that it is unlikely that we would get Mohammed Lemsagam for a video chat under the same circumstances.

Academy Matters

Karl wanted to address rumours about youth team coach Selim Benachour and that he was no longer at the club. Karl advised he is still at the club as he was chatting to him today (Thursday) so he is unsure where these rumours have surfaced from.

We asked (in terms of the academy) if there were chances to build links with local teams to send academy players out on loan (we referenced Sefil/Gonzales going to Ashton and how this had failed as an experiment previously)? Karl advised that this could be an option once football in non-league starts again as it’s an opportunity for players to play in a competitive open-age format that will give them experience of what is required playing for the first team.

Karl said the challenge is getting them ready for the first team. Karl has promised Paul (Murray) his support in terms of the academy. There was also hypothetical talk of an how to implement an “Oldham DNA” where (for example) we have a minimum of 2 academy players on the bench each week in order to try and get them exposure to first team football and this is what any current or future manager/head coach would have to adhere to. We said we believed that a potential revision of the long term plan would be advised and we believe that having a core of academy players in the squad would be well received by fans as we have always looked out for our own and had good reason to be proud of our academy.

Ownership & The Board

We asked about the make up of the board and the frequency of meetings. Karl advised that there have been 3 board meetings in the last 4 months. We also asked in terms of the more peripheral members of the board (specifically Adam Morallee & fan representative Richard Bowden) and if they all have a vested interest in the club, the decisions it makes and do they all bring something valuable to the table. Karl advised that Adam can bring a different viewpoint as he isn’t a supporter and acts in a capacity outside of the club. We advised with all due respect, that fans currently don’t feel as though they have a true voice on the board and Karl did admit was a little confused when he joined around the fact there was a club representative and also a trust representative on the board. He advised that Richard contributes well, adds value and is a good guy and said that that the role needs to be defined more clearly.

There were numerous questions received around the breakdown in relationship between fans and the current regime, what can be done to bridge and/or repair this relationship and if the owners actually care whether this relationship is fractured.

We said that if we owned a football club and were aware that fans weren’t happy with us specifically, what would the motivation be to continue if we weren’t openly looking to improve things? Karl liked to think that was why he had been brought in and that they will leave him to it in order to try and build those bridges with supporters who are unhappy and have walked away. He knows it will take time but if they can sort certain issues out (North Stand etc) then it starts to bring fans back onside and it gets easier. In a separate part of the chat, relating to social media (as discussed on the podcast), Karl did admit that he perhaps underestimated the strength of feeling amongst fans as a result of legacy issues at the club.

We also referenced the timing of Mohammed Lemsagam being back in the country, the emergence of more stories of disruption within the club and also a dip in form on the pitch as we believe that this fact isn’t lost on supporters.

Season Tickets

We asked about the Season Ticket situation in light of the additional lockdown and the fact it is unlikely that fans will be allowed back in the stadium again this season. Karl advised that it was disappointing to not have fans back for the Harrogate game originally as this is why the club had been working to, but he did say he would make a statement on this in January. He said money is tight, there is no question and it is very unlikely they can commit to offering full refunds to supporters. However, there are discussions around what can be done going forward and Karl is finalising this. We asked when this would be released to fans and Karl advised he would like to have something out by the end of January and we (PTB) will do our best to ensure that this deadline is met in the interest of supporter concerns.

We appreciate a wide-range of subjects have been covered here and we hope it is of some use. As always, it was a very honest and forthright exchanging of views but conducted in the right manner and we thank Karl for taking the time to engage with us. If you have any feedback, please get in touch.

Reclaim The Faith

Push The Boundary

Happy New Year – 31/12/2020

Happy New Year Latics Fans!

Good Afternoon Latics fans, we hope you had a Very Merry Christmas and have a fantastic New Year!

2020 has certainly been a year for all of us to forget. Life changed dramatically, epitomised by having to watch football from the comfort of your own living room instead of taking in the matchday experience, it has been one with little highlights as a whole. We do however hope that you manage to share Christmas Day surrounded by loved ones.

In what has been an uncertain time for all of us, we, as PTB and as a fan base as a whole have managed to contribute greatly to the local community. During lockdown, we enlisted the help of ex players and staff to keep everybody’s spirits high by delivering messages and reliving certain highlights in the Club’s history. We hope you enjoyed them! In the height of the Pandemic back in March/April, supporters and PTB donated funds to the Community Trust for food parcels to be delivered amongst the people of Oldham. Once again showing what Oldham fans can do when they come together.

We managed to sell out of PTB badges during this period also, which managed to add handsomely to the amount raised for our first Charity Partner, Dr Kershaw’s. The total amount raised by you, the supporters, from various fundraisers and donations came to an impressive £2,983.49 (With gift aid) which was fantastic to do and we know it was well received by the team at Kershaws.  Our thanks also go to them for all the support they gave us throughout and we hope we can continue to support them where possible in the future.

Then came the ‘World Cup of Kits’ which was completed over a 2 week period through the normal World Cup format fans really got on board with this, which managed to pull on the heart strings of supporters of the shirts which brought back their favourite memories. The winning kit being the Bovis home shirt from 1991/92 season! After feedback from supporters, we created our very own PTB Bovis shirt which went on sale to supporters. The first sale went extremely well with 129 people purchasing the shirt and has since seen ourselves open up a second window for shirt sales due to the demand from supporters. We are currently awaiting payment for those who placed orders and once payments are received for these, the order will be placed. All proceeds for the shirt sales will go to your nominated PTB Charity of 2020/21 season, Melanoma UK, as voted by yourselves! Shirt orders and final payments can still be made up until 4th January any orders made after this point will not be processed. To find out how to order please see the link below;

https://pushtheboundary.co.uk/melanoma-shirt-extension-27-11-2020

We conducted our Working Groups in September & October via zoom bringing supporters from all over the globe together and these were a great success as it’s given us a real sense of direction.  Watch out for further news around this in 2021 and again, thank you for those that gave up their time to offer their suggestions.

In what has been a turbulent year for many businesses, football isn’t any different and as such neither is Oldham Athletic. On the pitch, the year started with us being in 20th place just 9 points from bottom of the table, along with the North Stand dispute and other off the field concerns following our meeting with the owner and Q&A’s held by the club, resulted in the club being days away from Administration back in early March 2020. The pandemic soon hit and attention was diverted away to ensure the clubs survival throughout the months to come.

Following changes in the management structure in August, we saw Dino Maamria depart and swiftly being replaced with Harry Kewell hours later and similar happening with the Managing Director Natalie Atkinson being replaced by now Chief Executive Officer, Karl Evans.  The new season started in a similar vein to how the previous season concluded. Struggling to pick up results on the field, supporters and ourselves felt there were many questions to be asked about various aspects of the Football Club. How the Football Club was coping with the pandemic financially? What the expectations were for the season? Why certain players were advised they were not being considered for selection?

A fantastic run of form hit, especially away from home and only just missing out on breaking the clubs consecutive away game wins on the bounce with the club now being sat just 4 points away from the playoff places. On the field has certainly improved and hopefully performances and results continue in the same manner as the recent form so as fans, we can continue to enjoy the product being delivered on the pitch.

Off the field, we continue to have monthly dialogue with Karl Evans (CEO) which has been productive, provoking honest and progressive conversations something which we hope continues. As ever, PTB will provide updates from each of those meetings and report back with findings so supporters can have an insight into what the club is doing, how it is performing and most importantly, that the right steps are being taken to ensure it’s sustainability for many years to come. If you have any questions or ideas for us or that you want passing to the club please let us know via the usual methods.

As ever, we will look to apply the relevant pressure to ensure Oldham Athletic Football Club is run in a professional manner and will reiterate the importance of stability off the field to aid supporters being able to go to games and enjoy the football rather than debating how things are off the field. Something which has seen improvement over the last month, we hope this continues. Fan engagement and honest dialogue is key for supporters if they are to back what is happening at the club.

Undoubtedly, this is a tricky situation for individuals, businesses and football clubs but the importance of having a well-run football club at the heart of the community of Oldham is imperative. As such, we need to keep challenging and pressurising as and when required, whilst enjoying the upturn in form that we have seen in the last couple of months!

Finally, as a 4, Push The Boundary want to thank supporters for all your amazing support and suggestions, we really are nothing without your guidance and assistance. What this year has taught us is that as fans, we are determined, vigilant and above everything else, we want the best for the club we love.  We want to wish each and every single one of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  Hopefully 2021 will see a return to normal and we can concentrate our efforts to “Reclaim The Faith”.  As a group we can’t wait to get started and we hope you’ll be with us on the journey.

Ste, Will, Danny and Adam
PTB

You Did It! – 03/12/2020

We have hit 50 shirts sales on the second pre order meaning the order will definitely be processed for production and to do it in such a short period of time is fantastic news, especially for Melanoma UK! We would like to thank every single person who has ordered up to now to make this second order possible but if you haven’t ordered yet, we will be keeping open the window for orders until the 4th of January 2021 as logistically things won’t happen over the Christmas period from the supplier.

Please ensure sizes are triple checked (via the link below) before ordering as returns are not accepted;

https://www.pushtheboundary.co.uk/melanoma-shirt-extension-27-11-2020

The price for the shirt will be £31.60 for adults and £25 for Juniors + £4.99 UK P&P (as they will be required to be signed for) Similar to the badges, any shirts being sent abroad, the P&P will be determined by Royal Mail charges. In terms of the design, you will see the classic sponsorship and attention to detail with the design. The shirt is made from bird eye polyester and the badge is embroidered, the rest will be sublimated.

For those that would like to order a shirt, please contact us with the following details and we send you details of how to make payment:

Full Name
Order Details (gender/size)
Full Address

You can contact us via the following means:

Email: Info@pushtheboundary.co.uk

Payments will need to be made by the 4th of January 2021 at the latest or your order will not be fulfilled.

If you have any queries regarding the shirts please contact us by replying to this email.

Get your orders in now before the extension period ends!

Monthly Meeting with Karl Evans – 29/11/2020

On Thursday, PTB met via zoom with club CEO Karl Evans, who has now been in the role for 11 weeks as part of our monthly scheduled meetings.  As Karl has alluded to on Twitter, it was a very open and honest meeting with an exchange of views across various subjects relating to the club both on and off the pitch.  As Karl is purely responsible for what happens off the pitch and from a commercial & fan perspective, we have kept our notes purely around matters affecting fans off the pitch.
 
However, we did chat around the positive run of results on the pitch and how good/important this is to see.  There have been a number of entertaining games and great goals and long may this continue, we want to see us climb the table and start challenging at the right end. The fight at Exeter was good to see. This has been missing for a long time.
 
Covid-19
 
Following the announcement of new, post-lockdown restrictions from 2 December 2020, the imminent return of football supporters to Boundary Park sadly won’t take place in the short term.  We asked whether everything is in place from the clubs perspective for the possibility of crowds attending?
 
Karl advised he has been busy arranging essential works on the stadium (not covid related) to ensure that when possible, it would be a safe environment to let fans back in. Due to operational costs, Karl said it would be preferable to be able to get all season ticket holders into the stadium, but debate continues around this across football league clubs. It looks at this stage that the Harrogate fixture will be the next opportunity to get fans in the ground (26 December 2020).  There are things to consider such as staggered entrances, different ideas on catering (drink and food from Food stands or Vending machines) but most importantly can this safely be adhered to with regards to queuing etc.
 
A lot of the talk was around the Rochdale Rd, Chaddy End & Main Stand being utilised so we therefore asked the obvious question of whether The North Stand would be open as things stand for Season Ticket holders?

It was suggested if fans are let back into the stadium, because of the outstanding work on the North Stand, there would only be three open stands officially and therefore the maximum capacity allowed would be a percentage of these remaining stands.

When fans are allowed back in the stadium, the club believes that IFollow will still be available even if fans are let back in stadiums due to limited numbers being given access to attend a game.

We asked who decides who is responsible for what in terms of the outstanding North Stand work?

Karl advised it is a 2-way street with regards to the work and the council are involved and the conversations have taken place with the OEC around the completion of work.  They have been co-operative with this.
 
We discussed whether the corporate facilities would be open if stadiums were to re-open for sponsors? 

Karl wasn’t sure due to a number of Covid relating factors, there is very little (Food/ Drink wise) at games currently across the league for staff/ players and directors attending games as there is strict adherence required. They would be hoping to get people in for corporate but this remains to be seen.
 
 Purchase of Boundary Park
 
We asked if there was any movement on the purchase of Boundary Park. The last PTB/Karl Evans meeting seemed to suggest that this was on hold from the clubs perspective but AL stated in his recent video update that they were “working hard to bring everything under one umbrella”.  Therefore, we asked the question which is correct?

Karl advised he genuinely didn’t know when the last conversation took place regarding this between Chairman Abdallah Lemsagam and landlord Simon Blitz so couldn’t comment on how this is progressing.  Karl mentioned it’s the only way that the revenue streams can grow at the club, not only on matchdays but non-matchday revenue.  He is told that conversations are ongoing above his level.  We still live in difficult financial times and it’s not to say the purchase won’t happen, but Karl raised the point does it make sense to do this during a pandemic if revenue can’t be generated due to the OEC not being open?  For the next meeting Karl would like to have an update for Supporters on where this is progress is up to as he wants to know himself.  He knows that as fans we are frustrated about this and he is waiting for the green light to get involved.  Part of the reason he came on board was to get his teeth into this and the potential of the North Stand.
 
PTB asked if a price has been agreed as this would suggest the level of progress.  Also, if there is any unwritten agreement in place between AL & SB around the non-payment of rent while negotiations are ongoing, what is to stop SB from calling the unpaid rent in as part of a breakdown in negotiations?
 
Karl advised that he wasn’t sure if a price had been agreed but there has been no requests for rent since March and if there is no progress shown for a considerable time who can say what would happen next.  We advised Karl that while we are being persistent with our line of questioning regarding this issue, it is only because of the concerns raised at the club Q&A in January, the club were asked if Simon Blitz could put the club into administration due to unpaid rent.  The response was “tell him to try” and needless to say, we ended up in court in March for this very reason.  We therefore seek assurances that this situation won’t arise again.  Karl understood this and advised that Abdallah is looking to secure all the land around the stadium as this is the most viable way of doing the deal.
 
 
Project Big Picture, EFL Rescue Package & OAFC Finances

Project Big Picture was discussed and Karl believed there needs to be a longer term picture around the survival of football clubs in the lower leagues and the £50m mooted as being the deal given to Leagues 1 and 2 isn’t enough to sustain clubs for a longer period. Each club receives £30,000 for winning 3 games in the EFL trophy, and you get FA Cup money for winning games/ participating in each round as well as £12,500 for being on TV. The iFollow money comes through monthly for the last full month (October will be paid in November).  There is still a payment in January for the solidarity payment but it’s not what it would be as a lot of this was advanced in the summer due to the pandemic.  There is no doubts about the fact that it is tough at the moment. So income streams are coming into the club but granted they are limited with many dependant on cup success.
 
Abdallah Lemsagam Video Update
 
Karl said it’s not something that Abdallah feels comfortable with doing and with speaking English, he wants to ensure that he doesn’t say anything that will come across in the wrong way as it is his fourth language. 
 
It was acknowledged that there were a number of negative comments on social media but it was seen as not a high number of negative comments in the grand scheme of things. Karl appreciates it wasn’t a polished interview but felt that Abdallah conveyed the message around younger players (the average age of our squad is circa 24) and that in itself increases our ability to sell these players on.

We asked as we have so many players on 1 year deals, how we can expect to turn this into essential revenue for the club?

It was acknowledge this issue but the club are hopeful this seasons recruitment is the start of change in quality. Karl noted Abdallah tried to address the recruitment issue and on who picks the team.  Karl agreed Abdallah could have been more specific on the actual mistakes that were made which we had requested to be included from our last meeting, this was so that fans had tangible points to compare to, so any signs of progression could be seen fully.
 
David Wheater
 
We questioned Karl on the content of the David Wheater statement that was released by the board on 3 November 2020 (link below)
 
https://www.oldhamathletic.co.uk/news/2020/november/03102020-wheater-statement/
 
Given the social media reaction to this statement (amongst others), PTB have offered to view material before it is released to supporters to try and prevent any ambiguity and to offer a viewpoint from a fans perspective should the club be interested in this option.  We advised Karl that the statement didn’t make it clear what the situation would be when David Wheater is fully fit again, i.e. would he be made available for selection when he is fully fit.  Which is why we advised that the statement itself seemed to contradict the statement released by the club on 21 September 2020 where it states that both Gary Woods and David Wheater were “no longer part of the first team plans”
 
https://www.oldhamathletic.co.uk/news/2020/september/21092020-club-statement/
 
Karl advised that there is always two sides to every story and the club had tried to be totally honest about how his injury was obtained and what the current situation was.  When questioned whether David Wheater is fit again and would he be available for selection on the basis that he will be fit and the payment dispute will be resolved, Karl advised that the Head Coach has a decision to make and no one else that he is aware of. Karl went on to state that Harry Kewell is helping David on his off days to get him fully fit. It was Karl’s understanding that David Wheater will be available for selection when he is fully fit again.
 
We also explained that the Wheater situation and #FreeWheatz is not just about David Wheater himself, it’s about the long list of players who have been expunged from first team duty in the last few years (we then named players such Jack Byrne, Chris O’Grady, Zak Mills, Giles Coke, Ousmane Fane, Craig Davies etc who have been frozen out under the current regime).  We don’t want to be in a situation where there is another player further down the line who is subjected to the same treatment at the detriment of the playing squad.

Social Media
 
There were then open discussions raised by Karl around social media interaction and the effect this can have on the players, especially younger members of the squad.  While they are advised to stay away from reading comments prior to a game, the club has younger players who will go on twitter and see negative, derogatory comments aimed at the team and this doesn’t help the confidence of players.

PTB Engagement
 
We were asked about what PTB wants from the club and our response was that we want a club that’s run within its means, has a solid commercial backing from local businesses, ensure staff are paid on time, open and honest engagement with fans and have a squad fans associate with and feel proud to back. We don’t feel this is a lot to ask. We are aware we may badger people and we may pester people but this is purely because we don’t want the same mistakes to be made in the manner that they have in the last few years.  If we can sit here in 12 months time and acknowledge there have been no negative stories, no late payments, no player disputes and we have a stable and successful team on the pitch, this would definitely be considered progress, but we aren’t going to sit here and not speak for fans when they need a voice more than ever.
 
Falling Attendances & Fan Disengagement
 
We advised the number of fans that we speak to and contact us to say they have been a season ticket holder for ‘X’ number of years but they can no longer bring themselves to buy one.  Karl mentioned that he has followed the club he supports for a number of years and despite less successful times and poor players being recruited, he has continued to get a season ticket and attend games.  We tried to flip this argument to ask “what must it take for a season ticket holder of 30 years, not to renew their season ticket?”.  Around a 1000 people have ‘chosen’ not to renew and this is such a difficult conclusion to come to as an individual and there must be a strength of feeling behind this.
 
We advised that it’s the clubs responsibility to find out the reasons why this has happened as ultimately (and we hate this phrase), they are paying customers.  Previously the club have seemed unconcerned by this reductions in numbers, despite it being 25% of the overall attendance. 

Karl has seen the disillusionment amongst the fans and was disappointed to see the lack of engagement over the kits for next season but he understands the reasons why.

We asked whether the number of unhappy fans could be considered a “minority” as Abdallah alluded to in his interview?

Karl said if you look at the number of fans who support the club overall, it could be classed as a minority, but when this forms part of the match-going fanbase, it’s a bigger problem and one that once the effects of the pandemic have reduced, the club can look to address the reasons why we are where we are.
 
Karl also advised that there will be a vote on new official badge which should be released possibly next week. We would urge all supporters to have their say on what would be a massive move in the clubs history. When the options come out pick the one that you would want on a shirt, on your phone or computer. It has to represent the club and its traditions. We will be voting, make sure you do as well.

We thank Karl for his time and hope that the healthy engagement between both parties can continue to ensure the supporters really do have a voice.

Melanoma Shirt Extension – 27/11/2020

Firstly, we wanted to thank you for your amazing generosity in purchasing our PTB concept shirts based on the 1990/91 home shirt. We sold 129 in total and have raised a considerable amount of money for our chosen charity, Melanoma UK. It was amazing to see so many of you sending us pictures via social media of you wearing these shirts with pride. It really does hit home why we are doing this and it’s especially great to see future generations of Latics fans sporting this shirt and being reminded of the glory years for our football club.

We have had a number of requests from people asking if they can still purchase these shirts. We operated a 6 week window of pre-orders so that each shirt could be made to order, so as a result we don’t have any spares as things stand, but we are operating a swap shop of people who wish to exchange their shirt for a different size. Thankfully, to date, this number has been very low.

We have contacted our supplier and they have advised that while individual orders aren’t available, they can accommodate a bulk order of at least 50 shirts. We are therefore opening up the pre-order window again for a period of 5 weeks with a final cut off of 4th January 2021. Some important things to note:

If we don’t get 50 pre-orders then we won’t be able to complete the order
If we do get the 50 pre-orders required, these shirts wouldn’t arrive prior to Christmas due to the production and delivery time.

The price for the shirt will be £31.60 for adults and £25 for Juniors + £4.99 UK P&P (as they will be required to be signed for) and all pre-orders will be taken until 4th January 2021. Similar to the badges, any shirts being sent abroad the P&P will be determined by Royal Mail charges. In terms of the design, you will see the classic sponsorship and attention to detail with the design. The shirt is made from bird eye polyester and the badge is embroidered, the rest will be sublimated.

What sizes are available?

Adult (Chest to fit size)
XS 33-35″ S 35-37″ M 37-39″ L 39-41″ XL 42-45″ 2XL 45-47.5″ 3XL 48-50″ 4XL 51-53″ 5XL 53-56″

Women (Chest to fit size)
XS 29-31″ S 32-34″ M 34-35.5″ L 36-37″ XL 37.5-39″ 2XL 39.5-40.5″

Junior (Chest to fit size)
XSJ 26” SJ 27.5” MJ 30″ LJ 31.5″

We would love nothing more than for everyone who wants a shirt to get one, so we wanted to give people the opportunity who didn’t get one first time around. For those that would like to order a shirt, please contact us with the following details and we will add you to the list:

Full Name
Order Details (gender/size)
Full Address

You can contact us via the following means:

Email: Info@pushtheboundary.co.uk
Facebook: Push The Boundary
Twitter: @PTB_OAFC
Instagram: pushtheboundary

If you have any queries at all, please let us know,.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

 

PTB Meeting with Karl Evans – 03/11/2020

Karl Evans – Q&A

Yesterday evening 02/11/2020 – PTB met with Karl Evans (CEO) for a monthly meeting that have been scheduled to improve communications between ourselves and the club. This meeting took place via Zoom and Karl was sent certain questions from ourselves prior to the meeting so we could provide supporters with an update on certain aspects of the club to date.

– General Update

We asked about the situation regarding the new lockdown and whether this has any affect on the club. Karl confirmed that furlough has been extended for another month for football clubs (in line with other businesses), but he also mentioned that only 2 people at the club are on furlough at this point.

A player recently contracted Covid (already reported by the club) and has been self isolating. This period of isolation is now complete. We commented that the player wasn’t named and if there was a specific reason for this. Karl advised that if people who have contracted Covid don’t want to be named then that’s up to the discretion of that player. There is no other reason as to not naming.

Karl visited Hummel on Thursday of last week. Options for kits for next season should go out to fans this week to choose. He also confirmed that the badge for next season won’t be the one on this seasons leisurewear (the “angry owl” badge), but at this stage they are not 100% sure what it will be as discussions are ongoing.

Karl is meeting with the Trust tomorrow (Tuesday) around the memorandum of understanding to iron out any differences. From what he has seen, he saw no major issues with what was being proposed.

– Q. How have the PTB survey results been reacted to within the club and is there any follow up action planned?

Senior people within the club aren’t particularly surprised by the survey results internally. Abdallah is aware that he’s not very popular amongst fans.

– Q. We explained that if he is aware of his unpopularity, what does he intend to do about this? We said that something needs to fundamentally change if there is any chance of turning this around.

Karl said the club needs to stand up for themselves a bit more as some points they could defend, they have chosen not to thus far. As far as he is aware/concerned, he has not witnessed Harry Kewell being under any pressure from anybody to pick a certain player and/or any deals in place where loan players are obligated to play.

Karl asked what fans want from Abdallah? Do they want weekly/monthly contact from him? We advised that given the situation at this time and how fans are feeling, fans need to see a show of leadership and that he does genuinely care about this club and has its best interest at heart. We have been through a pandemic, a court case as well as a poor start to the season with no contact from our chairman. We explained how similar this was to the situations at Leyton Orient and Charlton, where owners disappeared into the background.

We explained that it’s not us (PTB) that he needs convince, we are just 4 people, he needs to convince 800 people who stopped going to games last season, 1400 people who chose not to renew their season tickets and all the people who email us to state they have been a season ticket holder for 20/30/40 years and won’t be renewing while the current regime is in place.

– Q. We mentioned in our last meeting about the prospects of a video call with Abdallah (in place of a fans forum). How is this progressing?

Karl advised that it’s been mentioned but it’s baby steps. He’s asked for support to convince him (AL) it’s the right thing to do to obtain answers to questions that fans really want to know the answers to. Circumstances should dictate that Abdallah should want to address fans to give them a sense of a plan going forward and ways to turn this around. Karl asked if that should be his role but we advised that with no disrespect meant, direction can only come from one person or fans opinions won’t change. 3 wins and/or a marquee signing won’t cut it any more.

We asked if by the time we have our next meeting in 3/4 weeks time, will Abdallah have addressed fans in some form. The response was “I sincerely hope so and it won’t be for the lack of trying on my part”.

Karl advised the support and feeling after the Bolton game was fantastic and we advised that fans want to back the club and support it. We can not like what is happening off the pitch but we will always support the club on the pitch. Fans support Oldham Athletic, but they don’t support Abdallah Lemsagam’s Oldham Athletic as things stand.

– Q. Can Kieran Maguire come in to view the accounts like we asked last year?

Karl will review the management accounts (rather than Kieran Maguire) as he’s a trained accountant and if anything looks like it needs further investigation and interrogation then he will do that. He’s not averse to having them viewed by an independent third party but this will primarily be Karl’s responsibility. Karl asked what people want to know and we replied that we want to know the details around the key indicators that show the club are being run well and on the right track.

While on the subject of the accounts, we stated that there was £1.9m listed on the accounts for buildings and assets and if we don’t own anything (stadium, land, training ground) why does this show as an asset to the club. Karl advises it depends on the lease agreement in place but without seeing this, he couldn’t confirm for certain.

– Q. What is the current situation with the North Stand?

Karl said he doesn’t see any benefit of doing a deal (to purchase the stadium) at this stage given the situation (the pandemic). A lot of the safety issues have been addressed already, but there are a few things in the North Stand and a few things in Main Stand that need sorting. Ultimately they want to get the North Stand/stadium under the clubs control. Karl also added that “nobody else is in with a shout in those conversations”.

We asked if fans were allowed back in stadiums for the game against Cheltenham, which stands would be open. Karl confirmed that only the North Stand couldn’t open.

– Q. Are rent payments up to date following the court case in March.

Karl said he had asked the question and was told that “what was agreed to a certain time, has been paid” and “When we had problems in March (when we ended up in court) that has all been paid”. Karl said he suspected that there may be a stand-off until things are progressed further in relation to the stadium and everything would be wrapped up under that agreement. What he does know is that no one is knocking on the door saying “you better pay this or else” as was certainly the case when he was at Bury.

– Q. Was everyone paid on time in October?

Everyone was paid for October on time. EFL iFollow money came in at the end of September which helped. Karl said he wasn’t sure about the ‘pay period’ that has been previously mentioned but you would have a set day for pay and then it may stretch a few days after that.

– Q. With the EFL looking at potential points deductions for late payment of wages (as per Macclesfield), how would they view the above?

With regards to points deductions for late or non-payment of wages, a lot depends on how this is communicated to the players by the club as to how the EFL will view it.

– Q. Will the club be claiming under their Business Interruption insurance for loss of profits following the recent test case which set a precedent by ruling in favour of the claimant?

The club are investigating claiming under their business interruption insurance for a loss of profits during the pandemic. Shahed will be looking at the paperwork with a view to submitting a claim.

– Q. What is the current situation with the LED boards (after they were switched off for recent home games)?

Karl got an independent person to look at the LED boards and the concern is that they aren’t fit for purpose and they have been switched off as a result. We advised that fans had invested in the boards (originally finding for a scoreboard) and have a vested interest in this and why they aren’t being used. Therefore any action taken would need to take into consideration the fan feeling.

– Q. What things would you say you have changed at the club since you have arrived?

Karl said it’s fair to say communication has improved and while sometimes it can lack substance/detail which is frustrating, he is working on that more as he gets his feet under the table. He has tried to get involved on twitter and have dialogue with supporters. He enjoys the banter and he has certainly sensed the mood of supporters but can also see the passion that we have for the club.

There has been great buy in from the staff and he is trying to bring more unity within the football club. He wants us to do things the right way all around the club, whether it be the first team, the community trust etc and he wants us to be the best football club that we can be in every aspect, whether that is dealing with the local community, local business’ etc

Fan on the Board

While discussing the topic of the board set up and future board meetings, we queried this role as we (as fans) haven’t heard much to date. It would be good to quantify what this role is and how it benefits the fans or indeed whether it is designed to do so.

To be clear, we are not talking about the Trust Representative on the board of directors, we are taking about the role of Richard Bowden.

#FREEWHEATZ

We spoke about our campaign and pointed out that while we are paying his wages and we are shipping a lot of goals, does it not make sense to have David Wheater in the team/squad. Karl said DW is currently injured. He was concussed in a game at Wythenshawe a few weeks ago and then upon returning after the mandatory 2 weeks, he picked up a back injury and remains unfit. PTB pointed out that a player would not be sent to train with the youth team if they were in contention for a starting place. Karl said the club were looking to provide an update on this.

We still had a few queries to relay to Karl but sadly his laptop battery died so we were unable to get a full response. We have followed up our remaining queries via email. These were related to:

– Season Ticket Refunds following new Lockdown
– Supporter Liason Officer
– Clarification on David Wheater’s Situation

As soon as we receive a response on the outstanding queries we shall provide a supplementary update to round things off fully. It was a very open and honest meeting on both sides and we are again appreciative of the willingness to engage and we hope that this gives supporters some information that they are looking for. We will obviously continue to push for a resolution to pertinent issues at the club, to convey the feeling of fans and create a platform where we can be treated with the respect that we sorely deserve. We will also continue to offer our assistance to Karl in order to help him in his role.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB

Open Letter to Abdallah – 30/10/2020

Dear Mr Lemsagam,

As you will no doubt be aware, we are currently sat 20th in the football league. We have from 8 points from 9 games and we are conceding 2 goals a game on average.

We currently find ourselves in a dispute with 2 members of the squad, the result of which means that one has been sent on loan to Aberdeen and the other, our club captain from 2019/20, is training with the youth team and has been advised that he is no longer part of the first team squad.

We are asking you to listen to the fans. If you truly want the best for this club, you would want to give us the very best chance of success. We are therefore calling for the reinstatement of David Wheater and Gary Woods (upon his return from his loan spell with Aberdeen) to the playing squad. We have conceded 18 in 9 games and we sit 20th the football league. it is clear on the pitch that we are missing a leader, an experienced defender and our club captain from the 2019/20 season.

The advantages of his inclusion back in the squad would be:

1. It would show that you are listening to fans and not only the popular consensus, but the correct moral decision
2. It strengthens our playing squad in a time when we desperately need it
3. It gives a new manager, the best possible chance to succeed by having his best players available to him
4. Treating a seasoned and decorated professional with the level of respect that his career deserves

We are the sure that the dispute with these players is nothing that cannot be resolved for the good of the clubs league status, which is currently under threat. The players themselves (via their agent) have suggested the players are still willing to fulfil their role within the squad.

We believe that if available both players would be more than worthy of a place in a matchday squad in our fight to climb the table. Should there be any reason legally why this cannot happen, we would ask for honesty and transparency on this matter. If you choose to ignore this request then it can and will only be seen as a further act of contempt towards the long suffering fans of this club. We await your response.

Regards

Ste, Danny, Will and Adam
PTB

FREEWHEATZ – 30/10/2020

It’s time to #FREEWHEATZ.
 
For those unaware of the dispute, our captain from the 2019/20 season has been banished to the youth team to train and has been excluded (along with goalkeeper Gary Woods – now on loan at Aberdeen) from the first team squad for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed that they were “no longer part of the first team squad” in a statement dated 21 September 2020.
 
David Wheater accepted furlough but was then encouraged to take a significant pay-cut by the football club.  This has since reportedly resulted in unpaid wages and an ongoing legal dispute.  Until we are told otherwise, we don’t believe this legal issue is preventing David Wheater from partaking in first team football.  That is purely down to the discretion of the club.

David has expressed a desire to be involved and while we respect the club can take these decisions regarding employees, we believe now is the time to put such issues to one side for the good of the clubs football league status. What we ask is simple, allow our most experienced defender back in the first team! In the league, despite a win on Tuesday night, we currently sit 20th with no clean sheets and have conceded 18 in 9 games.

The starting XI against Port Vale & Southend had played under 400 league games in the top 4 divisions in England while David Wheater has played in excess of this on his own. Our former captain has played over 100 games in the Premier League and this experience cannot ignored at such a crucial time in our history. For whatever lies ahead this season, this experience would be invaluable for a young squad. There is obviously no guarantee this would change our fortunes on the pitch, but we firmly believe this is the right course of action, especially given the transfer window is now shut.
 
To help us build momentum with this campaign, we would ask the following from you:
 
1. Adopt #FREEWHEATZ and use this on any relevant tweets.
2. Feel free to copy our campaign poster and use this as your social media profile and/or to promote the message
3. Send us a short video message of your thoughts as well as (or simply) stating #FREEWHEATZ
 
PTB will be sending an open letter to the club with our reasoning behind this campaign and also why this is advantageous to everyone, the main reasons being:
 
1. It would show that the club are willing to listen to fans
2. It strengthens our playing squad in a time when we desperately need it
3. It gives a new manager, the best possible chance to succeed by having his best players available to him
4. We would be treating a seasoned and decorated professional with the level of respect that his career deserves

We are highlighting and challenging this, not only to try and benefit the squad at the current time, but also to send a message that the constant freezing out of players year after year and treatment of staff shouldn’t and won’t be tolerated by the fanbase.
 
Our fixture list will be intense, we have already experienced injuries and there will be suspensions to come. With regards to the playing squad and the remainder of this season, it is unquestionably the correct decision is to reinstate David Wheater.

To read our letter to the club, please click here 
 
It’s time to #FREEWHEATZ
 
Reclaim The Faith
 
PTB

RIP Bobby Ball – 29/10/2020

Push The Boundary would like to pass on its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bobby Ball after seeing the sad news of his passing, after testing positive for coronavirus. 

Ball will forever be remembered thanks to the iconic ‘Boys In Blue’ cup final soundtrack, which still plays out at Boundary Park to this day.

Rest in peace Bobby 💙

Pictures Courtesy of Oldham Athletic  

Working Group Deadline – 22/10/2020

Following our update regarding our working group (click here to view again), we have put in place a deadline of Friday 23/10/2020 at midday for people to email in with their interest in being part of the Working Group organised by PTB. 

This is a great opportunity for fans to come to the table and put forward their ideas of how we move forward as fans of Oldham Athletic. A number of dates will be made available for when these meetings will take place, to give everyone who is interested a chance to participate.

Your Club Your Say – Working Group – 21/10/2020

Last week we announced the results of the ‘Your Club. Your Say.’ survey and it’s fair to say that it has attracted a lot of attention not just within our fanbase but from a wider audience. In the last week, we have been contacted by the Oldham Times, the Oldham Chronicle, BBC Radio Manchester & The Telegraph so it’s clear to see people are taking an interest in what is happening at Boundary Park and we feel this is vital in our efforts to influence change within the club.

On the back of these results we feel it is vital that we don’t lose any momentum. It is fantastic to see us get our first league win of the season and we hope on the pitch we can build on this over the coming weeks. However, our focus has always been based around stability off the pitch and a clear distinction has to be drawn between this and results on it. The survey results were concerning and there is no question about that. Fans are desperate to invest financially and emotionally in the club again and this is clear to see, but for this to happen there has to be fundamental changes.

The recent ‘clubs in crisis’ webinar led by the FSA highlighted that across any fanbase, there are many different skill sets and areas of expertise from people that are willing to get involved. We think it would be foolish not to tap into this. In the last 12 months you’ve come up with some amazing suggestions that we have been happy to take on board. We are, after all, here to amplify your voice rather than to speak on your behalf.

For anyone who is interested in being a part of group discussions alongside PTB, please drop us a Message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram alternatively email us info@pushtheboundary.co.uk with the following details:

1. Name
2. Age
3. A short explanation as to why you’d want to be involved

Just for clarity, the information above will only be used to ensure that we have a range of age/views across the group(s). Please don’t be put off from getting in touch because of geography or availability. This will purely be carried out via zoom given the current circumstances so as long as you feel you have the desire and some ideas to discuss, please get in touch. This is not an ongoing commitment and you will not he asked to attend regular meetings, this will be designed purely to work around your availability.

We will firstly ascertain how much interest there is and then we will quickly organise meetings to take things further. As this is going out to over 1,000 people, there is potential for a lot of interest and we do want to get as many views as possible in the shortest timeframe.

As fans, we are in this together and there is no better or more appropriate time to have your voice heard.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB