PROTESTS against Oldham Athletic’s unpopular owner Abdallah Lemsagam have intensified after a bitterly disappointing start to the season and have this week sparked an open letter to fans.
In a near 3,000-word statement, Mr Lemsagam admitted “the relationship between the club, the ownership and its fans is not in a good place, and I really want to change that”.
He wrote: “I am aware of the protests at my ownership and the anger and hatred that many fans have for me and my brother. I receive emails and texts, and so do those close to me, on a daily basis calling me all sorts of names and asking me to ‘go home’ and many of them are outright racist.
“Since I took over in 2018, I accept that mistakes have been made. But each mistake has been made honestly, and with an intention to help the club. I have never done anything intentionally to hurt the club, I never would.”
Mr Lemsagam admitted making errors over the recruitment of players and managers, saying: “I have tried my best, employing well-known managers that I thought would be successful, but they were not suitable for League Two.
“I changed the managers because I wanted the best for the club; I think Keith (Curle) is a good head coach for us and has the right experience to help us do well in League Two.”
Mr Lemsagam added some staff departures were not handled well and there have been poor appointments made off the field on the business side and accepted fan engagement could and should have been better.
He continued: “I accept I made all these mistakes. But I never made any of them deliberately and I have never done anything with the intention of hurting the club. For three-and-a-half years I have invested my money and time in Oldham. I made my own money, I did not inherit any of it, I worked hard for it. Every pound I invest means something to me and my family.
“I have never structured the club in a way to benefit me personally or even paid myself a wage. I have taken no wage for three-and-a-half years. The money I have invested is a large part of my personal wealth – I cannot and will not walk away from my investment and I am determined to reach the goals I have set for the club.”
Latics have lost five of their first six league matches to sit second bottom of Sky Bet League Two.
And a successful run to the third round of the Carabao Cup and a trip to Premier League club Brentford on Tuesday, September 21 has failed to win over disillusioned supporters.
There was another pitch invasion of the campaign by fans during Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat by Barrow as play was halted when they sat in the centre circle.
But it begs the question what would happen if Mr Lemsagam walked away? Who would take over?
There does not appear to be a list of would-be suitors with Mr Lemsagam admitting in his statement he had received no offers. The on-going wrangle over certain aspects of ground ownership appears still to be a huge obstacle to overcome.
Latics had the worst home record in the division last season with 15 defeats from 23 matches with the absence of fans cited as a contributory factor.
But with fans back at Boundary Park, their fortunes on home soil have not improved as they have lost all three league games with the toxic atmosphere clearly not helping.
Yet in the cup competitions it has been a far different story at home as they have beaten Tranmere Rovers and Accrington Stanley in the Carabao Cup, both on penalties, and Salford City in the Papa John’s Trophy.