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Oldham Athletic: New taskforce aims to give fans a role in future ownership

The Football Supporters’ Association has teamed up with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Co-operatives UK to try and give fans an active role in the future ownership of Oldham Athletic.

Supporter groups are working on a community share offer which would give fans and the wider community the opportunity to secure the club’s future. The work is supported by The Co-operative Bank through its Hive programme.

Paul Whitehead, from Oldham Athletic Supporters’ Foundation, said: “After a long period of upheaval for the club, we are committed to finding solutions that can unite the fanbase and command the support of all those who care about Oldham Athletic. We are putting in the work now to establish a structure for the longer-term stability of the club.”

Andy Burnham founded one of the FSA’s forerunner organisations, Supporters Direct, and said he had “huge respect” for the work that the FSA does in expanding supporter ownership – and he believes more could be achieved with the backing of mayoral combined authorities. A new taskforce will explore that.

“Sadly, as we have seen all too recently at Bury, new owners armed with little more than empty promises can come into clubs at the point of crisis and make matters worse,” said Burnham.

“Football clubs lie at the heart of our communities and require a community response that provides a long-term solution. Fans and local communities can’t be left high and dry again. We are determined not to let this happen with Oldham.”

Poor management by previous owners resulted in Bury collapsing into administration and being thrown out of the EFL. The FSA and Greater Manchester Combined Authority are supporting the local authority, supporter groups and private investors to bring professional football back to the town.

What does the FSA think?

The FSA’s Andy Walsh said the taskforce had the opportunity to “really innovate” and find new ways to help fans tap into local economic and social initatives on the road to supporter ownership.

As Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, explains co-operatives exist to serve their members’ needs – the difference at a football club being that the fans can be the members. So co-operatives can be the perfect vehicle for supporters that want to own their clubs.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball