Lemsagam Buys Latics
Oldham have today (26/01/18) formally announced the takeover of the club by Moroccan businessman Abdallah Lemsagam, following 7 months of negotiations. This brings an end to Mr Simon Corney’s 14-year tenure at Oldham Athletic and hopefully opens up new opportunities for Oldham Athletic, whose fans have had to endure 21 years in League 1.
Takeover by Simon Corney and the Three Amigos – 2004-2018
Following a proud time for the club in the early 90s, Oldham fell into desperate ways when they tumbled down the footballing pyramid to the 3rd division. In 2004, the club was close to being no more as it faced liquidation. After desperation and a hoax investor, in came Simon Corney, Simon Blitz and Danny Gazal – the three amigos, who promised a return to the Championship. The club entered administration and struggled for a number of years as they tried to pay back debts but after finally gaining the financial ability to grow the club, the club managed to reach the playoffs in 2007 – losing to Blackpool in the semi-final. The ‘three amigos’ fell apart when chairman Simon Blitz and Danny Gazal left the club in 2010 after the club had failed to reach the heights that they had wanted. In an interview with the BBC Blitz said:
“I don’t feel I’m able to give the supporters the contribution they are looking for in the future. Last season I invested a further substantial amount of money into the club and with reduced income from season ticket sales this summer, the demands on me were becoming too great. I have met lots of nice people and enjoyed my time, but have found it a constant battle and uphill struggle in more recent times.”
Since 2010, Simon Corney has been the chairman of the club but has struggled financially. He has been open of his desire to sell the club but has always said it would have to be ‘to the right person’. Following almost 8 years of football in the bottom half of league 1, Mr Corney has found his man – Mr Abdallah Lemsagam, the new owner of Oldham Athletic.
Who is Abdallah Lemsagam?
Little is known about Mr Lemsagam, here’s what we do know:
1.He’s a former football agent, who used to own the company ‘sportJLT’. He has given up his role as an agent to buy the football club.
2.He has contacts in Europe – Club CEO Mark Moisley has “to not take advantage of those contacts would be a crazy thing to do”
3.He’s passionate about Oldham Athletic, in his press conference he said: “I’ve loved this club since the first day I came in here. I hope I can do something good for the future”.
4.He does have money, but it is unknown how much – in his own words, he’s “not a billionaire” and won’t be dishing out money “left and right” but wants to build steadily for the future.
By all accounts, Lemsagam has really fallen in love with the club and has been in attendance and many games this season – both home and away. He plans on being based near Oldham – his family, whom he hasn’t seen in 25 days, will be joining him soon. To mark his intention for a club, he has confirmed that Eoin Doyle will be returning to Oldham.
What Has Lemsagam Bought?
In business terms, the man from Morocco has become the majority shareholder in the company ‘Oldham Athletic Association Football Club (2004) ltd. This means that the running of the club will be reliant on him, as owner of the club. Mr Lemsagam does not own:
1.The land – it is understood that this is still to be owned by Brass Bank, who lease the land to the football club.
2.The North Stand. Mark Moisley confirmed that this would not change ownership and the current arrangement would remain – Oldham Athletic will receive matchday revenue from the stand.
Simon Corney was 97% shareholder in Oldham Athletic. It is understood that Lemsagam has taken on all of Corney’s shares, with the other 3% held by the Trust – this is a form of fan ownership that looks to voice concerns of the fans on the board. Simon Corney will remain at the club, providing help and advice to Lemsagam for the transition period. Corney has not decided whether he will stay involved with the club for a longer period of time.
What is Next for Oldham Athletic?
Lemsagam has stated that his primary goal is to ensure that Oldham stay in league One. The Latics currently sit 22nd in League One, 2 points behind Southend in 20th. There is a real concern that, should Oldham face relegation, they may follow in the footsteps of Stockport County or Tranmere Rovers – Corney has in that sense done a good job at keeping the club financially settled but there has been no intent to move upwards.
Short term this takeover means that Richie Wellens, who revealed it was Lemsagam who appointed him, has some extra cash to spend in the transfer window – this has been seen by Lemsagam’s announcement that Eoin Doyle will be returning to the club and by Jack Byrne’s signing of a 2 ½ year deal. This put Oldham in a very good position to acquire some very good talent that will be essential to staying in the league. Longer term, it is hoped this could be very exciting news for the club. Lemsagam has clearly bought the club with a long-term idea of what he wants. There is a want to build the club steadily – ultimately with the intention of moving up the leagues. The fans really want to see a team that can battle to get out of the league (of course, in the right direction).
It seems the new owner does really want to change the club for the better and seemed level headed in his press conference – no wild claims of what is to come, but rather a cool and collected approach of wanting to slowly build for the future. Oldham fans have welcomed him to the club with open arms, excited at what is to come. Many are jubilant to see the end of the ‘Simon Corney era’ which has seen the club stagnate. To quote Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changin’”. Oldham haven’t been strangers to change, once Pine Villa and now Oldham Athletic, various owners and managers, players and legends have come and gone through the doors of Boundary Park. Times have been tough in Oldham over the last 2 decades, this really could mark the start of something big for both the team and town.