NEW Oldham Athletic chairman Frank Rothwell won’t be an absent owner with one notable exception.
Latics supporters have already embraced the Greenfield businessman as their new saviour judging by initial reaction to his unveiling at Boundary Park this evening.
So, they will forgive his temporary departure from the National League club early in 2023 when he embarks on a second Atlantic rowing challenge in three years.
The new boat, My Valentine, is already being kitted out ready for a February 14 cast-off, four days before his new club host Maidstone United!
But Frank’s move into football will ensure there is plenty to keep him occupied during an expected two months at sea.
“If you thought rowing the Atlantic was a white-knuckle ride, you haven’t seen anything yet,” quipped Darren Royle, son of legendary Oldham chief, Joe Royle, who helped broker Frank’s move into football.
However, it’s doubtful Darren, Joe and Latics’ boss John Sheridan have seen anything like ‘our Frank.’
He doesn’t profess to be a student of all things Latics especially and football generally during an engaging press conference.
There were regular referrals to his notes and the occasional stumble. He even admitted to once being a Manchester City season ticket holder!
“I don’t understand political correctness, so I don’t want to upset anyone,” he started his introduction to an audience including Oldham Council leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton and former leader, Arooj Shah.
However, as Judith Rothwell, Frank’s wife of 52 years, told the Independent: “Frank will give it 100 percent.
“He has always given his business 100 percent, when he rowed the Atlantic he gave it 100 percent.
“But this is a different type of work. And there is a lot of work to be done.
“But I know he will give it 100 percent and I will give him 100 percent.
“It is going to be an interesting time of our lives given he has supposed to have retired and taking things easy. He has just gone the other way.”
Frank, a Freeman of the Borough, was inspired to become involved after Royle junior took him to watch Latics’ 2-0 win over Leyton Orient last March.
Royle asked for help, pin pointing potential businesses in the town who could take over from controversial chairman, Abdallah Lemsagam.
A meeting at Frank’s Saddleworth home led to the Manchester Cabins founder and owner deciding to invest in a club on a collision course to potential oblivion.
“This is the biggest day of my business career,” admitted 72-year-old Frank. “I have never bought anything like this before.
“The most I have spent in one day is quarter of a million pounds on a new wagon and here we are buying a football club.
“But this is good investment; it is my town where I have lived for 50 years. My children were born in Boundary Park hospital and Oldham is a great place to live, to run a business and to socialise.”
With the new regime in place, he called on the town to back Latics in an attempt to win back their Football League status at the first attempt.
“For our first game with Dorking, I want this place full to capacity so you can’t get a ticket. I want everyone to come here and let the world know Oldham is here.”
As a driving force behind Greenfield’s Whit Friday brass band contest and last year’s inaugural Autumn Leaves contest, Frank promised a brass band will play at the opening home game.
By then, it is expected Frank and his team will have secured the purchase of the Boundary Park stadium to add to the club they now own.
A statement issued to confirm the news said: “The club and the Rothwell family would like to recognise the efforts of both of the selling parties in their co-operation throughout the process and also thanks supporters, community and Council and the other parties involved in the transactions for their patience and assistance.
“This is a significant and hugely exciting development in the proud history of Oldham Athletic and ensures the club can now approach the new season and beyond with a genuine sense of anticipation.”