Trust Oldham meeting: 20th April
The Trust Board held its second remote meeting on 20th April to discuss a variety of matters.
We are all acutely aware that the entertainment and sports sectors will be amongst the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
That is of course of secondary importance to the objective of minimising the health impacts of this pandemic and it is difficult for any of us to focus on what life will look like when it passes. However, life will continue and we will see some form of normality, and football, return. In that context, it is right that all EFL clubs are working together to understand the impact of the pandemic and to develop a strategy to enable football and football clubs to recover and be sustained in the long term. We know that a variety of options are being considered in order to achieve that objective, a number of which will have implications for the current football season to one degree or another. It is still early days in that process and all football fans are keeping a close eye on developments as reported in the media. The football club is engaging in those discussions.
Furloughing of playing staff
Since our meeting of 20th April, we have learned that the club has begun to ask playing staff to go on furloughed leave, enabling salaries payments to be claimed back from the Government under the scheme currently running to the end of June. We support the club in taking steps to reduce its financial commitments during this period. Player salaries represent a significant financial outlay and clearly playing staff are unable to fulfil their main employment commitments under the current restrictions. The furloughing scheme is designed to protect businesses and enable employees to maintain an income in this context. It is appropriate for Oldham Athletic to take advantage of this scheme in our opinion.
Reports of late payments of March’s salaries are concerning. The club has not notified Trust Oldham that this would occur or verified the accuracy of these reports.
Accounts for year ending 2018
Revised club accounts for the accounting year ending 2018 are due to be presented to the Club Board imminently. Trust Oldham has raised a number of concerns with respect to the previously presented accounts for this period and will be seeking to review the revised accounts to establish whether these matters have been adequately addressed. Until the accounts are finalised and the Trust granted access, we cannot offer meaningful comment. We will confirm how the Club responds to our request to view the revised accounts.
Accounts for the year ending 2019
These are due to be submitted to Companies House on 26th June. A three month extension has been granted due to the COVID-19 crisis. These will need to be presented to the Club Board (most likely in May) and will need to be approved by the Board (on a majority basis) in order for them to be finalised and submitted to Companies House. Trust Oldham will be seeking access to the 2019 accounts and, through its representative to the Club Board, has a vote on whether the accounts should be approved. Again, we will confirm how the Club responds to our request to view the revised accounts, how the Trust representative to the Club Board votes on the approval of the accounts and the reasons for taking this position.
Legal proceedings by Brassbank
The second Court Hearing originally scheduled for 21st April was postponed and will now be held in July as we understand it (date to be confirmed). The adjournment of the previous Court Hearing was agreed on the basis that progress had been made towards settlement of the debt owed to Brassbank.
We are advised by the Club that progress continues to be made in settling the remainder of the debt. We have not been advised of any further detail in this regard. However until the revised Court Hearing in July, this matter is unresolved and the threat of administration remains.
Purchase of Boundary Park
As a separate matter, the Club and Brassbank are in continued discussions regarding the acquisition of Boundary Park. Progress has understandably been slower than hoped due to the current COVID-19 situation. We have encouraged the Club to provide an update to fans at the earliest opportunity.
At this stage, the Trust has a number of critical questions regarding the proposed purchase of the ground as set out in our update of 8th March. Our fundamental concern is to ensure that the transfer of ownership benefits the Club, the fans and professional football in the town as much as possible.
It has not been possible to get answers to our initial questions in the intervening period but these will be a focus of our attention as and when the Club Board turns its attention back to non-COVID -19 matters.
Regular meeting with senior club officials
The Trust representative to the Club Board has been asked to co-ordinate a bi-monthly meeting between the Trust and senior club officials, including the owner of the Club. A schedule of meeting dates is yet to be confirmed.
Marking of 30 year anniversary of League Cup Final
It is surprising and hugely disappointing to see that the Club has failed to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of possibly the greatest day in our history. It is difficult to overstate the harm that this type of inaction does to fans’ faith in and sense of connection to the Club. We have raised this point with the Club.
Finally, we send our best wishes to all Latics fans and the wider footballing world. We hope that we can on day reflect on the current situation as one which brought football fans together and makes us appreciate the things we hold most dear.
30th April 2020