Oldham reacts to Lemsagam news

Reporter: Jack Walton
Date published: 13 January 2022

Oldham fans have reacted with cautious optimism to news that Abdallah Lemsagam has opened talks to sell the club.

In a statement, Lemsagam took ownership of the club’s situation, with their Football League status currently dangling by a thread, and recognised the “unrest” that has swollen up in the past few months.

Adam Keeley, of Push the Boundary, a fan group who have been campaigning for the owner’s departure, was one of many Latics to welcome the news.

He said: “It’s taken a lot. Push the Boundary was set up on the back of fans not having a voice and this is what we've been fighting for.

“Things have to change quickly for us to remain a League Two club.

Lemsagam’s statement also expressed an intention to improve the squad in the short term with the second half of the season promising a gruelling scrap for survival.

Keeley said: “It’s certainly in his interest to invest this month. He’s going to get more money for a Football League club for sure. If you haven't got the EFL ticket, what are you buying apart from the badge?”

The group has played their part in organising all manner of protests, from boycotts to clown suits and everything in between, which have been at least in part responsible for forcing Lemsagam’s hand.

He said: “It wasn’t just for four people, this is about the whole fanbase. Full credit to supporters who have stood up and said I’m not going to accept this anymore.”

Keeley, along with other members of the group, have had supporters ringing up in tears about the state of the club and others who flaty refuse to attend matches in the current circumstance.

But before any champagne gets popped fans will want more than a statement, the memory of the various empty promises and false dawns of the Lemsagam era still raw.

He said: “We’re feeling cautiously optimistic. We’ll need to see some form of actual progress before we get carried away.

“We don’t want a situation where 12 months down the line nothing’s changed and all we have is this promise.”

As news circled forums, a similar tone emerged - excitement tinged with uncertainty.

One fan on Ohwhentheblues, a popular fan forum, warned fellow supporters to take the news “with a pinch of salt.”

They continued: “We'll have no control over who, or if, he sells to. Once they've had a good look at the state the club is in they may withdraw any interest.”

Another added: “We remain nailed-on favourites for the drop, and there can be no guarantees over the financial strength/quality of the credible bidders, but this is a chink of light at the end of a long and dark tunnel.”

Owner Abdallah Lemsagam pictured when he took over at Boundary Park in 2018
Owner Abdallah Lemsagam

Oldham fans will take heart from the vigour the EFL have shown recently in helping nearby Rochdale fend off an attempted hostile takeover bid.

If the EFL have been quite careful to sift out any “rubbish”, as Keeley terms it, in Rochdale’s case, as well as helping Charlton Athletic vet would-be buyer Paul Elliot, then hopefully they will give Oldham similar support.

Keeley said: “Fans are going to love that refreshing feeling of having someone we can trust, provided they can get that.

“All we want is to be run like a proper football club, which pays its bills on time and has a family feel about the place, with local people making decisions.”

Other significant voices from the community have also come forward to champion the move.

Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, said: “Local football clubs are the beating heart of our communities. They must engage with supporters and be transparent so fans don’t feel frozen out of their own club.

Along with Oldham MPs Jim McMahon and Debbie Abrahams, Rayner met with several fan groups as the situation worsened.

McMahon added: “If a new owner emerges they must be held to a high bar and have a long term interest in the town, after so much turmoil it’s vital the club settled, wins back lost fans and rebuilds to strength.”

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