Dear Latics supporters, in line with our promise to be transparent with you, we have a few updates about the current situation at the club, as follows:
1) The team: The latest transfer window has seen a lot of activity. We concentrated on ensuring the club operates within a sustainable budget and therefore focused on achieving value for money as well as strengthening key areas with proven performers at this level and above. The team is now run on a budget which goes a long way to ensuring our continued future as a club that is run as a sustainable business.
We are delighted that again our team contains home-grown academy players, this is something we are keen to progress, and we welcome Paul Murray and Danny Cadamarteri to the academy. We have signed some young players with great potential with longer contracts to enable us to hold on to them when they prove themselves. This is an investment in the future. We have also decided to reduce our reliance on loan players as they aren’t a long-term solution. As can be expected with a brand-new team, we needed some time to gel together, but I am encouraged and assured by recent performances. The Board are fully behind Laurent and we look forward to the rest of the season.
2) North Stand and other related issues: The issues surrounding the use of the North Stand continues to be negotiated with Brass Bank Limited with a view to an amicable and sustainable resolution. Please don’t believe the various statements on social media surrounding the OEC’s contract offer to the club. The current offer not only significantly weakens the club and its revenue generation potential, but also ignores the major legal issues referred to below.
In November 2016, the club surrendered the North Stand to Brass Bank despite the club having contributed millions of pounds to its construction, partially through significant grants from the Council. Brass Bank then granted a lease of the North Stand to Oldham Event Centre, the entity trying to get us to agree to a deal to use our stand on punitive terms.
We instructed forensic accountants and lawyers to start an investigation into the whole process last month and we are in dialogue with the Council on the matter. The investigation is in progress and it’s not appropriate to reveal its findings on a piecemeal basis. We will tell you about it once it is complete. This investigation will enable the club to assist regulators in finding the answers, as well as ensuring any wrongs done to the club are righted. Please rest assured that the club will not rest until these key issues are resolved properly. In the meantime, the seats in the stand will always be available for spectator use and we are trying to reach an interim solution with the freeholder as regards the boxes and the use of the interior of the North Stand.
3) Non-football/backroom office staff: The backroom office staff and administrative transformation is in progress. We have recruited a Director of Finance who has been working hard to ensure we achieve value for money in procurement, as well as establishing proper financial processes and controls within the club.
Our new Managing Director has been working to ensure operations are smoother and all members of staff have clear direction and supervision so that we are all working towards the same goals.
With a better administrative structure, better infrastructure and a better, dedicated team, we are able to achieve more for less. We are looking at further cost reductions over the coming months by reviewing all our key contracts as waste and price-gouging have already been identified in a few areas. The club will not be making any procurement decisions that are not best value for money.
4) Financial stability: As you are all aware, clubs below championship level operate within shoe-string budgets. When you add years of financial mismanagement, nepotism in player recruitment and wage structure as well as key decisions stripping the club of all its income generating assets, you have a situation where achieving financial stability is a challenge (to put it mildly). Since the takeover of the club, despite initial hiccups, we have managed to steady the ship. We still have a long way to go, and nasty surprises from the past keep emerging periodically, but the extent and quantity of these are ever decreasing.
The reduced revenue from the North Stand and reduced gates are all contributing factors, but we continue to provide financial assistance when it is needed. We must stress that the Club is in its best financial position for a number of years and in light of what has happened to certain nearby clubs, we want to assure fans that we are in no danger of a similar fate.
5) Trust Oldham: As we have demonstrated, we have tried to forge a strong and open working relationship with Trust Oldham. We would welcome any positive development in this regard, and we have demonstrated our goodwill in appointing the Trust representative as a Director of the club and divulging commercially and personally sensitive information to him as a gesture of goodwill and transparency. Whilst we are disappointed with their statement on their review of the full accounts including personal bank statements were not given the same prominence as their statements criticising the club, we will continue to try and work positively to improve things.
Finally, we would like to thank the fans that have continued to support the team through this challenging period and some disappointing early results. Those fans that have decided to take a stance to oppose every decision made by the club, please reconsider and come back to supporting the club as we continue to improve on and off the field.
We all want to communicate with you in a more transparent way and will hold a fans forum to allow you the opportunity to tell us directly what you think in October, but a date is yet to be agreed.
From the Chairman and Board of Directors