The Press Box
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The Press Box

Thrown to the Wolves

More than one English Football League team has been financially crippled in recent years, here is a look at just three of them

Gigg Lane, the home of Bury FC (Photo from Google Maps)

Oldham Athletic became the reluctant first member of a club that no side wanted to be part of.

The Latic’s relegation to the fifth tier of English football meant that they were the first former Premier League side to drop out of the football league.

Relegation is brutal on any club, but the 2–1 home defeat to Salford was a day that should go down as one of the darkest in football league history.

The ownership of the club by Abdallah Lemsagam, who has been chairman for four years, has been one of contention for many months.

Oldham fans have called for him to sell and leave, and these protests hit a boiling point during Saturday’s defeat.

With ten minutes left of the match, supporters took to the pitch with a banner that read “Get out of our club.”

The game was very nearly abandoned, but instead, the final ten minutes were played behind closed doors.

The match ended 2–1 and wins elsewhere in the league for Stevenage and Barrow left Oldham seven points adrift with just six points left to play for. Relegation confirmed.

From the outside and looking at the league table, relegation from the football league looked deserved.

Yet seeing another football league club badly run to the extent fans have felt it necessary to take to the pitch to display their desperation for the owner to sell up is becoming a familiar story.

Oldham may have become the first members of the Ex-Premier League club turned Conference outfit, but they are just the latest club to be financially crippled by their ownership.

In fact, they aren’t even the first club in the Greater Manchester area in the last decade to succumb to this fate.

Just two years ago, Macclesfield Town was wound up after accumulating debts of £500,000.

Players and other staff went unpaid and the National League, where the Silkmen were due to kick off the 20/21 season, voted to expel them from the league.

Following the decision, the Silkmen Supporters Trust (SST), believed that the club’s demise was directly the fault of the club’s ownership.

“The SST is devastated by the decision of the court to wind up Macclesfield Town Football Club.

“The responsibility for this lies at the feet of one person — Amar Alkadhi.”

A year earlier, in 2019, aside just over 20 miles away suffered a very similar fate.

Bury FC was fresh from promotion to League Two and ready for a fresh campaign, but behind the scenes, there was a different story.

Mounting debts and a lack of finances to pay them off, their third tier season stalled. With their first five games suspended and missing league deadlines to pay repayments, time was called on the club.

After 125 years as a member of the Football League, the club was wound up and expelled.

On the night of Tuesday, August 27, 2019, the EFL board released a statement on the decision to remove Bury’s membership.

A spokesperson said: “Having fully considered all available options, including a number of late expressions of interest provided to the EFL, the EFL board has unanimously determined with enormous regret that Bury’s membership be withdrawn.”

Plenty of lower league sides have been pushed to the brink of collapse before these three and, sadly, many more will likely drift towards this fate.

What adds to the irony of the financial troubles of these three clubs is that they are all located within roughly 20 miles of both Manchester City and Manchester United.

These are two clubs that view a trophyless campaign or a poor European campaign as a catastrophic failure.

For Oldham, Bury, and Macclesfield fans, seeing their club stay together as a club will be worth more than any silverware or big money signing.

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Patrick Hollis

Patrick Hollis

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I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience