Category Archives: EFL

Two Good Signings Show That Latics Are Serious About Moving Forward

With the League Two 18/19 season not yet over till the playoff final on Saturday, Oldham have shown that they are not going to rest on their laurels and leave the building of the squad for next season to the last minute.

In a move that has been widely welcomed, Latics have managed to persuade Gevaro Nepomuceno to sign a one-year extension to his contract. Without doubt, Gevaro had an excellent 18/19 season with us and will be a useful asset next season. Few teams at League Two level play with a winger, preferring a more direct approach and Nepomuceno showed on numerous occasions that having a player out wide, especially one who can cross the ball so accurately is a great asset.

Gevaro’s skill was best displayed against Fulham in the FA Cup, when he provided the cross for Callum Lang’s winner but there have been other notable performances.

Athletic’s other signing was Alex Iacovitti who was on loan with the club last season from Nottingham Forest. The 21-year-old was released at the end of the season and apparently, Latics beat off stiff competition for his signature. Alex is ideal for League Two due to his size and physical presence. He may well find that he gets a lot more starts next season due to the exit of club captain Peter Clarke and, the possible transfer of George Edmondson to any one of a number of interested parties.

In the past, the club has been accused of leaving the building of the team for the new season too late, and early results have suffered as a consequence. The other critique is that Latics are signing players before appointing a new coach, but the urgency in getting Nepomuceno was evident as he could easily have signed for one of our rivals.

There is plenty going on at the club that fans are uneasy with, however, the signing up of two decent players who have already proven their worth should quieten down the doubters for the time being.

What Type Of Oldham Athletic Fan Are You After Lemsagam Outlines His Vision?

Oldham fans opinions have fallen into several key categories over the last 12 months and the divisions seem to be multiplying weekly.

The latest missive from club owner Abdallah Lemsagam has caused division when its intention was to heal some rifts. The different categories of fans seem to fall into:

The Eternally Optimistic

These supporters get most of their Latics news from the radio or newspapers and while they are obviously concerned about the future of the club, they are confident that whoever is in charge is doing it for the right reasons.

Blissfully unaware of the storms that rage on message boards, Facebook and Twitter, they are the lifeblood of small clubs and their lives revolve around Oldham Athletic as probably did the lives of their parents and grandparents. They are not to be pitied or described as ‘Happy Clappers’ are not stupid and they have as much right to an opinion as everyone else. They will welcome Lemsagam’s vision for the future.

The Silently Worried

If you’re a member of a message board but ‘lurk’ in the background rather than post on there you are among friends. Your views are not based on rumour and outright invention but carefully measured over years of watching the club.

Lemsagam’s announcement will soothe the silently worried somewhat, but they will need the reassurance of a few wins when the season starts to be won over properly. These people aren’t stupid either and shouldn’t be leapt upon if they offer an opinion that differs from the next group.

The Fiercely Opinionated

The Internet has a lot to answer for and giving a platform to all and sundry to spread lies, guesswork and unsubstantiated rumour is just part of its problem. Lemsagam’s vision for the club will be picked apart and largely ridiculed, despite it being just what has been asked for less than a week ago.

The keyboard warriors have been guilty of spreading rumours that have been little more than opinions shared over a pint, and the sad fact is that these stories are pounced on as being true. Anyone who asks for proof is met with a rebuff for having their head in the sand, and when the stories are proved to be untrue the original post is revisited and deleted.

Declarations that they have no intention of watching the team again occur daily. There are fewer shows of petulant behaviour in a nursery playground but as always, a run of decent form will change the mood on social media and signal a mass deletion of past messages.

Lemsagam’s words might be lost on these fans but they are not stupid either, and amongst the nonsense there exists the odd lone voice of reason which gives some measure of hope.

The Waste of Space

Hardly worthy of a mention are those who will never accept Lemsagam or anything he says because of his race. These people are the ones we don’t want at Boundary Park because their views are indeed stupid. Exceptionally so.

Have Oldham Made the Right Move With the Board of Directors?

Changes at boardroom level are largely unnoticed by fans unless the incoming chief executive is a billionaire who likes spending money.

At Oldham in the past, a newcomer to the board would hardly merit a mention. However, with every statement and action from the club being monitored in minute detail, the changes that took place this week have once again triggered disbelief and ridicule.

A simple announcement of the changes was posted on the club website with Abdallah Lemsagam as Owner and Director, his brother Mohamed Lemsagam as Sporting Director and Barry Owen, Adam Morallee and Darren Ratcliffe as non-executive Directors.

It has long been claimed that the Lemsagam’s have been involved in interfering in the choosing of the team and, that was an accusation aimed by Paul Scholes after his departure. They deny it but with Mohamed Lemsagam as ‘Sporting Director’ and no manager in place, someone must be keeping an eye on potential signings and dealing with bids for George Edmundson – so it is a safe bet to assume it is ML.

The one oddity appears to be Adam Morallee who is a colourful character with a chequered past. He is certainly not a shadowy figure with an untraceable past, quite the opposite in fact. Morallee is easy to track down on social media as the manager of boxer David Haye. He gave what is widely described as a ‘cringeworthy’ speech prior to the Hayes/Bellow fight in 2018.

It is his involvement in the football world which will probably cause Oldham fans more sleepless nights however. He was Massimo Cellino’s lawyer during his takeover of Leeds United in 2014.

During his time at Leeds, he also represented Giuseppe Bellusci when he was accused of racist slurs against Cameron Jerome.

Cellino incase anyone was unaware, had a turbulent time at Leeds going through six managers in three years. Although Morallee wasn’t involved in some of Cellino’s wilder antics, it will still be seen as a controversial appointment.

Elsewhere on the board is Barry Owen who was Chairman of Trust Oldham for 12 years, and is widely distrusted by Oldham supporters for a number of reasons. He resigned during the club’s failed attempt to sign Ched Evans in 2015 but was co-opted back onto the board.

Whoever makes up the board at Oldham, their relevance and eligibility for the job will be measured by the way in which the team performs in League Two next season. That is an easy way of looking at it, but all that the fans want is a team which is able to compete adequately and push for promotion without the off-field distractions which marred the 18/19 campaign.

If the board can deliver on that hope, the Lemsagam’s can appoint whoever they like.

Owner’s AWOL, Staff Unpaid & Bury FC Are Seemingly Going Forgotten

Much of the football news from this part of the country towards the end of last season focused on the plight of Bolton Wanderers and their seemingly unending fight to remain in existence.

Much was made of the need to keep the club from disappearing due to its rich history. However, just down the road, an equally important battle was being fought out at Bury FC whose history dates back 134 years and have equal claims to be considered as vital to the Football League pyramid.

With Bolton heading for administration and life in League One, supporters around the country have organised food collections for staff who haven’t been paid and are experiencing acute hardship.

Whilst this is to be applauded obviously, it appears to have overshadowed the similar position Bury staff find themselves in. It is possible that Bury’s automatic promotion from League Two has somehow been misinterpreted as evidence that the club are doing well, and that their future is bright and secured – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bury still face an uncertain future, while owner Steve Dale goes AWOL and leaves the staff to fend for themselves in this crucial and uncertain time. At the insolvency hearing in the High Court, Judge Prentis acknowledged the fact that Bury was a ‘historic’ club and adjourned the case till June 19th.

That is still four weeks away and although it gives the club some breathing space in which to bring in last-minute potential buyers, the unpaid staff still have bills of their own and are often the forgotten party in situations like this.

There is no real reason why Bolton should be considered to be in a worse situation than Bury, and there are surely fans from other clubs who would gladly help out if needed.

The problem, of course, is the lack of publicity smaller clubs get and although both Bolton and Bury will be hopefully competing against each other next season. It will always be ‘ex-Premier League’ Bolton who make the headlines despite Bury holding the record for the highest FA Cup final score for 116 years.

It should be remembered that although Bury are not as well supported as the two Manchester clubs, visitors to Gigg Lane and the town, spend money that benefits the local community and that is a vital source of income for local businesses.

I what should be an exciting preseason full of hope and preparation for life in England’s third tier, Bury are left between a rock and a hard place. Many of the playing staff are starting to vent their anger socially, after holding their tongue for too long.

There’s a sense at Bury that many people at the top end are in it for themselves, they forget that long after they have gone the fans remain, the community remains and hopefully the club remains.

This is a lower league club, a small town club, that is not there to line the pockets of crooked owners. Real life, local people are being affected by the flippant decisions made at the top. It brings stress and much more for many who have not been paid for three months, this has to stop now and the EFL have to take ownership of their dealings with potential owners.

Bury Football Club needs your help, get in touch and let’s get these amazing people who are going without pay, the aid they need.

The Close Season – Purgatory For the Average Football Fan

We should look forward to and enjoy the summer in the UK. It might not last long but given that there are some who think there is nothing better than a lazy sunny afternoon, drink in hand with the sun beating down on pale flesh it is worth waiting for.

On the other hand, however, there are some people who would rather be huddled in a cold stadium with freezing toes, yelling their disapproval at 11 men running around a muddy field.

Each to their own of course.

We can safely ignore the ones who call themselves sun lovers and leave them to their unhappy, peeling skin existence and concentrate instead on the plight of those of us who dread this time of year and shudder uncontrollably at any mention of the close season.

For us, games played in the snow, ice and rain after a nine-hour trip to Plymouth are to be enjoyed just as much as any package holiday to Lloret de Mar.

Everyone deserves a break of course, it gives us time to recharge our batteries and plan for the future. For football fans, however, the period between the FA Cup Final (the traditional end of the season) and the first Saturday of the new season is a yawning chasm that never seems to get narrower. There is the distraction of the World Cup and European Championships of course but, there is always the nagging doubt that you may have missed a rumour on Twitter about Oldham’s new centre half while you’re watching Peru v Namibia at 3 in the morning.

Any small snippet of news from your club is eagerly pounced upon, even if it’s an announcement about who will be sponsoring the club lawnmower when the new campaign begins. Those who are short on patience are harbingers of doom if the club hasn’t signed at least six new players by June 1st.

The new fixture list (20th June folks) is poured over as if it is a missive from another world. Away trips are planned and there is some comfort taken from the discovery that the Grimsby game, doesn’t clash with your daughter’s wedding after all.

However, this is only a brief hiatus and cannot put aside the horror that the new season is still an entire month away.

Eventually, there is an audible sigh from around the land as clubs post photos of new signings holding up scarfs inside empty grounds, and even though you’ve never heard of the player, for a brief moment he is everything you’ve been waiting for…The new season.

RUMOUR MILL: Sol Campbell To Oldham, A Serious Consideration or Just Another Long Shot?

According to current odds, Sol Campbell is favourite to become the next Oldham manager after the postseason exit of Peter Wild.

There appears to be no solid proof that he’s even interested, however, it has still been reported in the local press which in turn gives those looking for clues added signs that it is true.

This is in spite of his declaration, that he intends to still be around at Macclesfield when next season commences but has ‘limited patience’ with off-field goings-on affecting his squad. Presumably, he would be expected to ignore the Oldham off the pitch sideshow if he made the move to Boundary Park.

On paper, Campbell would be an ideal candidate for the job. Not because he has vast experience at managing a lower level side but because he defied all odds to keep Macclesfield in League Two and, has witnessed at first hand a club in steep decline.

It has to be accepted that Campbell did an excellent job in keeping the Silkmen in this division, given that the odds were stacked against him. The point Macclesfield gained on the last day of the season was enough to keep them up, but the unpaid players nearly boycotted the game as a protest. Given the importance of the fixture however, they recanted and managed to get the result they needed.

If merely being able to keep a side in the lowest division is looked upon as a success, then Campbell may well become Abdallah Lemsagam’s fifth managerial appointment since he arrived. Oldham must surely be looking to improve on last seasons league position, given that two of the clubs who came down with us have managed to return to League One at the first time of asking.

The list of possible managers includes many who have failed at this level and, Campbell still has a great deal to do to prove that he is capable of steering a side to promotion. Given that the Oldham job is supposedly looked on as a poisoned chalice, Sol may well think he is better off at a club without a Chairman, with players threatening strike action and facing a winding-up order in the High Court.

If that is anywhere near the truth, the club is indeed locked in a downward spiral that few managers would be keen to try and reverse.

Staff Unpaid, Food Banks Open and Now The Bolton Fans Have Been Punished With a 12 Point Deduction – All That Is Wrong With The EFL

Given the number of clubs who have experienced financial difficulties this season, there is perhaps now room for the EFL to look at the way in which they tackle the problems of their members.

The rule concerning the ‘fit and proper persons test‘ is surely due for an overhaul as it has been shown to be unfit for purpose on numerous occasions. It can investigate legal and financial details, it can check the structure and economic viability but what it cannot ask is: are you a clown?

This puts the game at a great disadvantage because as far as clowns are concerned, there has been an entire circus of them involved in football at various levels.

As some sort of fix for this and to serve as a warning to others, the EFL have imposed a 12 point penalty on Bolton next season for putting the club into administration. The EFL will now ‘commence discussions with the administrators with the aim of achieving a long-term future for the club‘.

Starting a season 12 points adrift of everyone else leaves Bolton fans in a position they have little control of. Whilst concern must be directed at the staff who haven’t been paid and are relying on food banks, the fans must feel hard done by especially if they’ve bought season tickets for the 19/20 season.

It is almost beyond belief that serious thought was given to the interest shown by Laurence Bassini, the clown prince of football owners. His inability to show that he had any funding in place to purchase the club was the reason talks collapsed, and Bolton found themselves back at the High Court.

It would be perhaps a wise move for the EFL to consider giving potential new owners a trial period. In which to prove they had the best interests of the club at heart because, at present, few people have much faith in the ruling body to sort out the mess.

Whilst the lawyers and advisers argue over the millions owed, the bleak outlook for the staff is one of debt and empty food cupboards, and something really needs to change soon to avoid it happening elsewhere.

Bury Live To Fight Another Day With Interest Growing in The Shakers

A winding-up petition for Bury has been adjourned as one of three possible buyers look set to lead the club heading into League One.

The League Two runners up were given time for owner Steve Dale to find his successor, and clear up the current debt. Owner Dale has been given till the 19th June to find a new custodian.

On a positive note, up to three potential buyers are said to be interested in buying the club, although no agreement has been reached as the Shakers returned to court following on from the previous adjournment last month.

Dale said there was ‘potential interest’ in taking over his role as chairman, with the door wide open for new investment. Bury are said to be an ‘attractive proposition’ after the clubs most recent promotion.

However, as any fan of an EFL club will know, nobody is out of the woods just yet. This has been a lucky day for the Shakers, after being given vital time with regards to finding new ownership.

Sporting director Lee Dykes was removed from his job last week with the aims to limit outgoings.  HMRC is owed £277,640.77 in unpaid tax, though they are confident this money will be paid back.

After Bolton Wanderers were placed into administration and a 12 point penalty for the start of next season in League One, this is, therefore, a fairly positive outcome.

Yet all this will be for nothing unless a change of ownership takes place and one of the potential investments proves to be a success. North Ferriby of the Non-League fell to existence only this year, even though they only owed debts of £8,000.

Bury clearly owe far more than this, but the priority has to be finding a new owner; the third in less than 12 months. The future of manager Lowe and several first-team players will be up in the air for as long as the background politics goes on.

Anyone who has an interest with Bury will wait for the conclusion of this financial drama with great interest. Still, the long term future of the 134-year team is still very much up in the air.

Was Rochdale The Making Of Cardiff City’s Mendez-Laing

A name very much on the end of most Cardiff City fans tongue last weekend was that of scorer Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who doubled his goal tally for the season in the final game of the season.

Many Rochdale fans, however, will have good memories of Mendez-Laing during his spell at Spotland under Keith Hill. After not really having much impact at Peterborough during his three-year spell with the club, in which he found the back of the net four times. Being loaned out became the norm for the winger.

Three back-to-back loan spells at Portsmouth, Cambridge and Shrewsbury left Mendez-Laing looking broken. In came Rochdale in the summer of 2015, with Kieth Hill believing he could revive the winger’s fortunes and get him playing as he should be.

Signed on an initial one year deal, Mendez-Laing didn’t have an ideal start with mounting injuries pushing back his league appearance to October. Nevertheless, Hill thought if he could get Mendez-Laing up to match fitness on a regular basis he’d have some player on his hands.

The winger scored roughly one goal in three games and it was a no-brainer to activate his second-year option on his contract.

During his second season at the club, he turned up in the big games when Rochdale needed him too, and carried the team a lot towards the end of the season as Dale pushed for a playoff place.

His turn of form and performances didn’t go unnoticed, and Cardiff City came calling for the free agent in the summer of 2017 after he rejected a Rochdale contract.

He helped the bluebirds in their quest to be promoted to the Premier League, however, an injury-ravaged first half of the season put a dent in his momentum.

Rochdale fans, what memories do you have of Mendez-Laing and did you think he had what it took to play in the Premier League?

Lowe and Bury Caught in Two Minds as Administration Looms

Bury will be returning to League One this summer, kicking off a brand new season in August. But before even the fixtures can be announced, a trip back to court looms for the club.

As the dust settles on this year’s promotion back to the third tier, the realisation a potential history defining date on May 15th could well decide Bury’s future.

Until financial issues can be dealt with, planning for next season has to be put on hold. Despite a second place finish in League Two, it seems Bury are unable to make any steps forward as far as strengthening the squad is concerned.

Ryan Lowe and his players have not been paid for two months and while owner Steve Dale has the club up for sale, no potential buyer has come to the forefront yet.

Lowe urged Dale to ‘find a solution’ when discussing the off the pitch drama at the club. As far as his immediate future is concerned, the former striker said he and his players would not be going anywhere soon, yet would need assurances that all club staff, from manager to cleaner, would have a regular wage coming in.

When discussing the off the pitch troubles, Lowe said.

“We’ve done our bit. Now it’s time for the club to find a solution. The club needs an investor or a new owner. It’s up for sale and I hope it’s resolved very soon because I’ve got players effectively out of contract as of yesterday. 

They want to know where they stand, and so do I. Because we’ve all gone a couple of months without pay and we’ve all got to look after our families. 

I ain’t in no rush to leave and nor is anybody else. As long as the finances get resolved, I’m happy. But there’s a deadline on everything isn’t there? And there’ll come a point where all of us – myself, my staff, the players – become available’.

Many clubs will look to the work achieved by the former striker, realising that in the past year the EFL saw the emergence of a top manager. Only days after the 2018/19 season drew to a close, Plymouth Argyle was a club reported having shown an interest in him.

Danny Mayor is now out of contract and Nicky Maynard is a free agent. These are two players of many who could look elsewhere in their careers if they are to lose faith in the Bury board.

For now, fans will hope and pray Dale finds his successor. Wednesday’s big court day could well decide everything. Long AND short term.

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