Oldham's Moroccan owner refusing to sell despite protests

1 year ago 3677
OldhamSome Oldham fans staged a sit-in protest against Abdallah Lemsagam's ownership during Saturday's 3-0 home defeat by Barrow

Oldham owner Abdallah Lemsagam has said he has not received any offers to buy the club and "does not want to sell".

The Moroccan took over at Boundary Park in 2018 but his tenure has been highly unpopular with fans.

They have protested at the club's home games this season and briefly forced Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Barrow to be halted by coming on to the pitch.

In a long responseexternal-link to questions from the Oldham Supporters' Foundation, Lemsagam asked fans to "work with him".

Oldham have been owned by the Lemsagam family since January 2018, when the takeover from Simon Corney was finally completed.

Since that time, the Latics have been relegated to League Two - albeit they were already in danger at the time of the takeover - and are currently 23rd in the fourth tier, while over the past three and a half years there has also been late payment of salaries and threats of player strikes plus the threat of administration, which was eventually avoided.

"I do not want to sell my ownership of the club. I am more determined than ever to make the club successful," Lemsagam said.

"The actions of certain fans at the moment, the ones that want me to sell, are hurting the club. Encouraging non-attendance at matches, invading the pitch during matches, throwing objects at the players - those things all hurt the team and the club.

"I have not received one single serious offer to buy the club in the past three years.

"I am not leaving. I am not selling. I want to work with the fans and not fight with them," added Lemsagam, who pledged to attend a fans' forum with all the board present twice a year.

Can fractured relationship be mended? Analysis

Mike Minay, BBC Radio Manchester sport reporter

I sat next to club legend Andy Ritchie on Saturday, who played under the manager whose name is now written on the stand where fans first emerged on to the pitch on Saturday, Joe Royle.

I couldn't help but think, what would they make of this? When Ritchie was playing and Royle his manager, Oldham were a founder member of the Premier League. Now, they are second bottom of the Football League.

You expected the invasion. In recent weeks there had been tennis balls thrown on the pitch and invasions at the end of games, and when Barrow's third goal went in, I sensed it was going to happen. Fans wanted a reaction from their owner. They finally got one.

This open letter starts to address the concerns and he has to follow through with some of his comments. But has the relationship become too fractured? Can it be mended? The Oldham Athletic Supporters' Foundation seems to be more patient, another supporters' group, Push The Boundary, is less tolerant. Whenever the fans' forum takes place, I expect hostility. Things have to turn quickly for Oldham.

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