Words by Gary Carter
OLDHAM ATHLETIC have staved off the threat of a winding up order by paying off debts to HMRC.
But owner Abdallah Lemsagam has revealed things had to change or the club may have been under threat.
The tax man lodged a winding up petition against one of the companies that forms the Boundary Park club.
However, Lemsagam has revealed that, and any other outstanding debt, has now been paid off.
After taking over the club, he found that practices that were being used could no longer go on and says he has spent more than £3 million of his own money to try and steady the ship.
Now under manager Frank Bunn, he believes things are turning around off the field.
Lemsagam said: “I have been in control of the football club for over six months now and I admit it has not been easy at times. When I first came in a lot of creditors who had not been paid by the previous regime issued court proceedings and winding up orders.
“After a long process, there are now no remaining winding up procedures and we are working hard to clear the final old debts that the club is responsible for. In particular, there are no longer any debts owing to HMRC.
“It became clear to me quite quickly that the club could not continue the way it had been running: borrowing money from one person to pay another and selling off future assets, leaving a black hole for the future. If we continued in that way there was a very serious risk of losing Oldham Athletic.
“I have personally spent over £3,000,000 to get us to a sustainable platform now and I will continue to invest in this club.”
Latics are now in League Two and brought former player Bunn in as boss, with a number of players leaving.
And the conduct of some of them has angered Lemsagam, who admits the playing budget has been cut because of Football League regulations.
He added: “It has been well documented in media reports that a number of players who haveleft the club were unhappy.
“I want to say it again: the club is bigger than any one person. It is bigger than me, and any one of the staff or the players. I have been very disappointed to see media reports from one particular player that came to me in January wanting to leave for their own personal gain.
“At the time I had to remind him of his obligations to the club as an Oldham Athletic player. However this did not seem to have any effect, especially when we look back at some of the performances from the second half of the season.
“I am pleased that our dressing room is now totally behind our management team; the players give total respect and dedication to Frankie Bunn and Andy Rhodes and, more importantly, Oldham Athletic.
“Ultimately, who plays in the team is down to the manager and his staff. If a player is not loyal, shows no discipline or shows a total lack of professionalism towards the club or any of their colleagues then I am 100 per cent behind our manager to make the correct decision on them.
“Any player that isn’t committed to this club will not feature for Oldham Athletic.
“We are now on a firm footing and can build for the long term future. We have a new management team in place who have a young, hungry squad full of potential at their disposal. Our ambition is to create a successful and sustainable football club that will represent the town for many years and decades to come.”