Latics chief looks forward with confidence after pressing 're-set'

Reporter: Simon Smedley
Date published: 24 June 2020

With the threat of administration now having faded away, Latics staff can look to the future with renewed confidence.

That's the view of the club's managing director Natalie Atkinson, who has been speaking to the Chronicle about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, new ways of working, and finances, after it was revealed earlier this month that money owed to Brass Bank Limited - a business owned by former club owners Danny Gazal and Simon Blitz - had been paid.

It's been a tough few months for everyone across all walks of life thank to coronavirus, but the break away from on-field acrivities has given Latics chiefs the opportunity to 'press re-set'.

Ms Atkinson said: "The priority has always been for everyone here to make sure there will be a club to come back to at the start of the 2020/21 season.

"The debenture is now paid off though, thanks to Abdallah, and that means we can all move forward now.

"That threat of administration is no longer hanging over the football club, nobody wanted that.

"Abdallah doesn't want that, neither do the players, staff, the fans of course.

"That's all dealt with now, so this is a fresh start.

"I've been saying to people that this is a re-set for the football club now.

"We've re-set behind the scenes, on the pitch, and we can re-set a whole lot of things we've all been doing.

"We can come back next season in a different way.

"Particularly all of our staff can come back with a refresh, a different way of working, and I suppose a renewed confidence in what we all want to do as a team.

"It's all really positive.

"Through all of this I've been trying to see solutions, and I believe we will come out of it with a positive outcome.

"Yes, football clubs across the land will have been looking at how they can reduce costs and be more efficient, but for me that is the big positive we can take out of this awful situation.

"We will come back organised, efficient and stronger in terms of off the field activities.

"All our staff now feel empowered to do the work we need them to do."

After Latics' 2019/20 League Two campaign was curtailed early due to the pandemic, it's now all about preparation for next term, though again, a degree of uncertainty very much still swirls around the game in general.

"For football, we'll start to see over the next few weeks some indication as to when the new season might start," added Ms Atkinson.

"I am hearing it could round about the middle of September.

"Whether that's with crowds I don't know, whether it's with a percentage of crowds, we're just not sure yet.

"A return to training could potentially see the players back on August 1, but we've had guidance yet from the EFL.

"Those are dates that have been indicated to us, but again it'll all be dependent on how it goes over the next few weeks with the new reduced social distancing measures.

"Getting to the end of June will prove something of a milestone for us.

"At the moment everyone apart from the groundsman and myself are furloughed, so during July we'll look at getting the ground ready, the training facilities ready for when the players return.

"Saying that, we will still need to minimise risk of course, risk of players and staff engaging as we'll need to protect everybody."

Meanwhile, Ms Atkinson has saluted the 'amazing response' from fans to Latics' season ticket proposals, whether regarding refunds offered following the early finish to last season, or booking season deals for the 2020/21 campaign.

Full ticket refund options can be viewed here

The earlybird price structure for new season ticket applications has been extended 'for the foreseeable future'.

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