The Directors held their latest board meeting on Friday 4 June where a number of important topics were discussed at length, one being that an update, like this one, will be communicated following all future board meetings.
We had an addition to the Board recently, Paul Hughes, who will represent the Oldham Athletic Supporters Foundation (OASF). Paul presented his remit and outlined his and OASF’s aims to the Board. He committed to bringing forward the views of fans and generally assist and challenge the Club from a fan’s perspective.
Last season ended disappointingly with an 18th placed finish, a position that fell way below expectation and resulted in the appointment of Keith Curle in March, who has subsequently agreed a two-year deal with the Club. Keith can now concentrate on building a squad capable of competing at the right end of League Two. We have 11 players currently contracted to stay, supplemented by four Academy scholars who earned their opportunity to become professional footballers and we wish them well.
Our players will return on the 23rd of June, a day before the new League Two fixture calendar is announced. We are in the process of securing six pre-season games, three at home and three away commencing on Saturday 10 July and details will be announced once fully confirmed. In addition, we are hoping to host an open training session at Boundary Park where fans will have the opportunity to meet the playing squad properly once social distancing restrictions are relaxed further.
Our intention is to offer the players and coaching staff the best facilities we can, carrying out major renovations to the pitches at both Boundary Park and the Chapel Road training ground. The playing surface received an average score last season of 3.61 out of five with the league average being 3.34 which is voted on by referees and visiting coaches, our aim is to improve on this, and we have a very dedicated team who are keen to ensure this happens.
We have also carried out some important maintenance projects over the last few months resulting in the Club passing its latest EFL Health and Safety audit.
With regards to fans returning to Boundary Park, we await government guidelines on this but in the meantime, we would like to thank the 2,000 fans to-date who have either renewed or purchased season tickets for next season. Our pricing structure was based around recognising the fantastic support given by season ticket holders for the 2020/21 season who did get to see games through the iFollow platform but never saw a ball kicked live, the vast majority of which have stuck with us which we truly appreciate.
We are very aware that a significant number of fans are awaiting the return of the North Stand to watch games from, and we are attempting to make progress on this, details of which will be announced when it’s appropriate to do so, certainly before the start of the new season.
On other football matters, the Academy passed their recent ‘safe to operate’ audit and we await the recommendations of the recently published Sheldon report into historic allegations of abuse in football.
On the topic of finances, we are due to submit our 2020 accounts soon with the Board having approved the draft last week. Our Director of Finance has met with key representatives of OASF this week to go through the accounts in detail and exchange views and provide any additional information requested. This is a continuation of the process that was established last year in finalising the 2018 (amended) and 2019 financial statements and is in-line with the recently agreed Memorandum of Understanding with the Club.
The Board was also presented with a finance KPI dashboard to give the directors assurance over compliance and other key aspects related to the Club’s finances, which was approved.
It is important for the Club to recognise its influence and position within the local community, the driving force of this mainly being the Oldham Athletic Community Trust (OACT) who work tirelessly as a team to create opportunities and address issues that face the people, both young and old, who live in the town. The Club and the Trust work very closely together which has resulted in a huge number of projects involving players and staff, we believe the most in English football which we are very proud of. It was also a great pleasure to see the logo of the Trust emblazoned on our shirts at the latter end of last season which was just reward for their efforts.
On the business side, we will be announcing several exciting new partnerships soon, plus the appointment of a new Head of Commercial who will take us to the levels we should be performing at from a commercial perspective and assist the Club in moving forwards.
There are three new kits and a new club crest, some of which will be unveiled on the 4th July in the lead up to the new campaign and our thanks go to both Hummel for the kit and the excellent work carried out by the media professionals who designed the badge elected by the fans.
We have followed but professionally not reacted to the grossly inaccurate comments and deliberately harmful posts on social media over the last few months by a small number of individuals joining together and intimidating several members of staff, and at the same time harming the Club in the process. As a Board we feel obliged to protect our staff at all levels from these attacks especially when they are based on fabrication, so we are now taking appropriate steps with legal representatives to address this.
Our aim, as ever, is to bring a successful football team to the town, and we, as a Board, are all fully committed to this. In addition, the morale and desire of all the staff to move the Club forwards has never been greater.
Your loyal support is both vital and appreciated.
The Oldham Athletic Board of Directors