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!