We hope this update finds you keeping safe and well.   Last week you may have read on social media that we had started to re-evaluate Trust Oldham as an organisation and started to discuss with the Club where some of our aims are shared.

With that in mind, we’d like to give you an update on some Club matters, and let you know a little bit more about the work we have been doing.

Before we start – we’d love to get some feedback from you – follow this link and get in touch.   We’d love to hear from you. 

Payments to players

We have read rumours circulating that wages have not been paid, and we’ve also been asked if we knew that wages have been paid late to players.    We were not given any pre-warning that wages had not been paid, or were in fact due to be paid late.   

As the rumour broke on social media, Darren was notified by the Club that wages had indeed been paid on time via the WhatsApp group the board use to communicate.   

Since then Darren has discussed the situation with both Shahed and Natalie and they have given him a full assessment of the situation and furlough payments plus top-up payments (where agreed) have been agreed to players where appropriate.   The club continues to discuss matters with the squad.

Though we cannot refute every rumour that surfaces, we would like to reassure fans that in the background conversations are taking place and we seek to get the clarifications that we require from the club. 

This will be discussed again at our next Trust board meeting on June 8th where we will get a further update from Darren.

Staff disputes

There have been a number of board meetings held with the club where decisions have been held regarding the best way to handle the situation for the future of the football club and in particular the playing staff given that income streams as widely reported are significantly lower than they ordinarily would be during this period.   

Disputes with players are not pleasant to see.    We have been kept informed of the progress of this situation with the players where furlough wasn’t initially agreed.    Furthermore, the club have shared details of meetings held with the PFA and it is a situation that we closely monitor and discuss with the club.

Oldham Athletic are not the only football club wrestling with the best way to handle the situation. There are currently 1,600 players on the verge of being out of contract and redundant and we’re sure for those players, the uncertainty will not be welcomed.

There was also a report in the Oldham Times recently regarding a historic Industrial Tribunal.   Darren has discussed this with Natalie and Shared, and it goes without saying that we would prefer it if no Industrial Tribunals happen with staff.   In these cases it can highlight an unfortunate breakdown of relationships between employer and employee. 

With the case mentioned that dates back to 2019, Darren has expressed his disappointment over the matter and sought information to how things had escalated.   We also keep in mind that Natalie has worked hard to put into place proper HR practices at the club and we do not expect there to be further Tribunal cases in the future.

Ending the 2019/2020 Football Season

We are Season Ticket holders just like most of you – so when the clubs voted to end League Two early, fans quite rightly wanted to know what would happen with their season tickets and whether any proportion of the season ticket cost would be refunded.   

Given that three weeks have passed without an update on this situation, it does show that a decision to end the season wasn’t as much of a done deal as it was expected to be.

It was the view of several board members that until the EFL ratify that decision, no announcement would be made to prevent any confusion.    Darren has given his input to both Natalie and Richard in order to shape the options that will be on offer to fans, and we expect things to move on at the next EFL meeting on the 9th of June.

Planning is already underway for the 2020/2021 season – and though season tickets sales are expectedly below normal levels, supporters are still renewing.   

We will continue to lobby the Club to extend any early bird discount on a continual basis to give some financial relief to fellow supporters.

In addition, we encourage the Club to be more open with regards to the potential plans, just like many other football Clubs have done.

Discussions between Messrs Lemsagam and Blitz

Without any shadow of a doubt, the global pandemic has had a severe impact on the negotiations to complete the deal between both parties regarding the purchase of Boundary Park and also regarding to the repayment of the debenture. 

It is a situation with many commercial sensitivities which are not ours to disclose – the latest update we had was yesterday.   

We have encouraged the Club look to give an update to all fans on this matter as soon as they can. 

Club Accounts

Darren and Shahed have remained in contact over the 2018 accounts that we rejected in December.   The Club have made changes to these accounts, it was presented to Board and shared with the Trust (as a shareholder) and re-submitted to  Companies House following Board approval.  

The changes are based on further historic information coming to light through forensic accounting and some of the points we suggested have been considered.    Darren was given a full copy of the accounts to share with the Trust Board, and ran through the adjustments that had been made with Shahed – this level of openness is one of our expectations and it is appreciated. 

Nonetheless Trust Oldham cannot and does not provide any form of certification or approval of the Club’s accounts for 2017/18.

We are mindful that the 2018/2019 accounts will be submitted a later this month and with that in mind, we draw a line under the previous accounts.  However, we do place on record our disappointment at the lack of commitment to complete a Companies Act checklist to ensure that the content and scope of the revised accounts comply with the requirements of FRS 102

Trust Oldham – The Future

At the start of this update, we started by reminding you that we are reviewing the whole of Trust Oldham as an organisation.   This will involve discussions with the Club as we did in May; discussions with our members and seeking feedback from the fans.

We will shortly be ready to unveil our Memorandum of Understanding with the Club that we have worked hard to agree with Natalie and Richard – the most significant feature of it being a formal end to all Non-Disclosure agreements.   

This gives us a good basis to build upon – it does not mean we are seeking to simply cosy-up to the Club.   There will always be “clear blue water” between both organisations and we will work with the Club as a “Critical Friend” on a basis of mutual respect.

We will also work hard to be more communicative, and a new Communications Charter will be developed to give clarity as to what, how and when we update our members and all Oldham Athletic supporters.   

We’re all resolute that if we work together, we will achieve more, and we welcome your feedback and thoughts on our future.    We would also welcome applications from members to join the board and help us achieve the changes that we want to see – we hope to be announcing a new addition to the board soon.

We will soon start organising our AGM and preparing our own accounts – we will give an update on this over the coming weeks.