The Sun has reported another chilling report that the Latics could be kicked out of Boundary Park as they are nearing administration with one debt of £500k being significant. The report reads as follows:
Boundary Park gets so cold that Joe Royle nicknamed it Ice Station Zebra. Now the club that Big Joe took into the Premier League face being frozen out of the ground it has called home for 116 years. And unless owner Abdallah Lemsagam comes to a resolution in a dispute over alleged overdue rent of £170,000 as well as a separate wrangle over approximately £330,000 in unpaid loans, Oldham could face administration. That £500,000 total is allegedly owed to former Latics director Simon Blitz, who is freeholder of the ground as part of his financial company Brass Bank — along with his partner and former director Danny Gazal. Blitz claims Lemsagam is running up interest of £5,000 per month on over half of that sum and he is now consulting administrators. The businessman is also weighing up the nuclear option of attempting to repossess the stadium and thus barring Oldham from playing there.
Administration would mean a 12-point deduction that, if imposed today, would leave them bottom of League Two and facing relegation from the Football League. Near-neighbours Bury were dumped from the EFL last year. Oldham’s future had looked so different under ex-boss Royle, who came within 60 seconds and a Mark Hughes equaliser of taking the club to the 1994 FA Cup final.
Manchester United won the replay 4–1 before Royle’s men were relegated from the Premier League. But at least they had their moment in the sun alongside the glamour boys as one of the 22 founding clubs of the relaunched league in 1992.
They became the ‘second club’ of many fans, the small-town sloggers punching above their weight.
Now they are on the ropes — understood to be losing £1million a year after falling from League One to 17th in the fourth tier since Lemsagam took over the club in January 2018. Attendances are down an average 1,000 a game, with gate receipts expected to plunge by £300,000 this season.
Simon Corney, who sold the club to Lemsagam for £1, claims the annual wage bill soared from £1.5m to £3.3m after he left. Lemsagam has been accused of getting too involved in the affairs of his previous managers — among them United legend and Latics fan Paul Scholes, who quit after 31 days. He rejects the criticism.
The Moroccan former agent, whose brother Mohamed is the club’s sporting director, has repeatedly come under fire for paying underwhelming signings inflated salaries. One of those was unknown Dutch forward Queensy Menig, who Lemsagam signed on loan from Nantes in late August 2017, having already taken over Oldham’s financial affairs. In front of Corney, he was given a king’s salary of £11,000 a week by Lemsagam. Menig left for PEC Zolle in his homeland five months and 15 appearances later. Listed in Tuesday night’s match programme for the 3–1 win over Mansfield were an astonishing 56 players and that is without defender Cameron Borthwick–Jackson, who has just joined on loan from Manchester United. Oldham fans have repeatedly protested over the club’s plight.
Players have not been paid on time, while many club staff have been sacked — some on their return to work after last Christmas. Striker Craig Davies left after last season’s relegation accusing Lemsagam of being a “circus owner”. This is rejected by Lemsagam, who believes he has fought for the Latics. Yet the club loved by so many is facing the biggest crisis in its 125-year history. The worst fears of supporters’ groups are now in real danger of being realised. Lemsagam told SunSport in November that the ground rent was a peppercorn one of only £1. This is disputed, with claims that £100,000 was the correct fee. He also claimed he had found a £5.2m black hole in the club’s finances surrounding construction of the North Stand, completed in 2016 at a cost of £5.75m. A report overseen by Lemsagam and sent to Greater Manchester Police alleged misuse of £1.78m in grants from Oldham Council towards what is now called the Joe Royle Stand. The allegations, in a club statement on January 3, are “mainly against those who had dealings with Oldham Council when grant money was allocated towards the North Stand”.
In his interview with SunSport, Lemsagam declared: “If you want the big picture there is £5.2m missing in the club and we are fighting to get it back. The North Stand is owned by Brass Bank but built with the money of Oldham Athletic.” Lemsagam’s claims sparked a two-month investigation by SunSport. We have since been shown detailed legal and financial documents strongly suggesting that Blitz and Brass Bank acted lawfully. Yet that North Stand, named after revered Royle, is a monument to bitter infighting. Blitz says he had wanted to build the club a new ground. But when he found that was impossible, he borrowed £3.8m to create the North Stand, added another £200,000 plus the £1.78m grant money and installed the Oldham Events Centre which houses a bar and restaurant. The 11 corporate boxes are not currently being used — costing the club around £100,000 per year in net income. Blitz — who says he has spent months showing Lemsagam documents that he claims show he is legally entitled to charge rent — does not want to see Oldham follow Bury down the same nightmare path.