OLDHAM Athletic have been criticised by the Independent Football Ombudsman in a row over a ‘winning’ golden goal ticket.
Though Ombudsman Professor Derek Fraser insists he has no jurisdiction to take action against Latics, he says the club needs to address how it times the golden goal.
It follows a complaint by season ticket holders John Briggs and Venn Tracey, both neighbours in Royton, and Roger Jagger from The Summit, who thought they had won the £500 prize from the home game against Cheltenham Town.
The golden goal time was given at 74min 30sec by the stadium announcer. However, the clock on the perimeter board showed 74min 30sec with the ball still on the wing before the cross that brought about the goal.
John, who had a ticket with the time 74min 31sec to 74min 35sec in his hand, claimed the goal was scored within that slot.
But Latics told him the golden goal was timed by a different person to the one who operates the clock on the perimeter board so were not synchronised, which is why there was the discrepancy.
Sam Rosbottom, who was until recently Latics’ head of media and communications, replied to John that the golden goal terms and conditions stipulated the winning time announced by the stadium announcer is final.
Latics’ commercial department consultant David Broadbent also informed John of two stopwatches being in operation.
John, replying to David Broadbent, wrote: “You reveal a system if two people manually operating stop watches from different parts of the stadium at the start of play and presumably again at half time and you even accept ‘there is always the chance of a second or two difference between them’.
“Yet no-one appears to have had the foresight to realise such duplicity could result in confusion and suspicion as is now fully demonstrated. No explanation of why two systems are even necessary and, if so, why they could not be synchronised in today’s technological world.
“Admitting the golden goal timing is clearly inaccurate (now proven to be so) is clearly an admittance that the true winner is deprived of the prize.
“In a five second timescale, and possible two second chance of error.
“You demonstrate clear evidence that this can be a lottery in trying to collect your guaranteed winnings. In simple terms the prize can go to the wrong person. Is that fair?”
A long-time supporter of the golden goal, John added: “The three of us club together and buy six tickets for each game.
“Five of the tickets were from the first half and I had thrown them away and still had the remaining one in my hand which is why I knew when the goal was scored we had won.”
John is unhappy with the response from Latics, continuing: “I produced evidence on video from the Goals on Sunday round up to prove our case, but Latics have produced nothing to say they were right.
“I wanted to know why the two stop watches were not synchronised.
“The Ombudsman ruled we were not entitled to the money as the PA announcement is final and he was bound by the club’s terms and conditions, but he said the timing was flawed and that needed addressing.”
Ombudsman Prof Fraser, in a letter to John, wrote: “You have identified a flaw in the timing calculation and I recommend the club reviews its timing arrangements to ensure that the result is as accurate as possible, thus ensuring the integrity of the competition.”
John added he wanted to make other supporters aware to avoid them experiencing a similar issue.
Oldham Athletic were asked to comment but had no replied by the time the Correspondent went to print.