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