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