OLDHAM chief executive Karl Evans insists he is no “puppet” as he looks to earn the respect of Latics supporters.

A large section of the fanbase continue to call for owner Abdallah Lemsagam to go with Harry Kewell’s side sitting 20th in League Two ahead of Saturday’s trip to neighbours Salford City.

Evans replaced outgoing managing director Natalie Atkinson at the start of September and put fan engagement at the top of his agenda.

Getting fans on side given the strength of feeling against the current ownership is a tall order, one made even tougher by supporters being absent from games for the foreseeable future.

But as he continues to engage directly with supporters on Twitter, Evans insists he welcomes all the messages coming his way.

“You learn with football fans you get more respect when you’re out there when things aren’t going so well,” he told The Oldham Times. 

“Whether it’s through a team’s performance or team’s position in the league or there’s a sway against the current ownership. There’s no point in me hiding away if I believe in fan engagement when I only come out if we win a game.

“Yeah you get more moans but you also get more respect because you’re not just coming out for the glory times.

“If I win one over then it’s worth doing and then he’s my best salesman. Then I’m relying on what Harry does because I can’t do anything when they go over the white line.

“One of the big things people say is the ‘club doesn’t communicate’. Okay, it may not be the club in its entirety but I am the club.

“I am a representative of the club at the highest level apart from the board of directors and the owners and I have responsibility to communicate.

“I like the fun, I like the banter. Football is a game of passion and of opinions football would be boring and we’d all be talking about something else.”

Evans is engaging with both Trust Oldham and supporters’ group Push The Boundary as he looks to make headway.

“We won’t always agree but I’m not a puppet for the owners and if they come up with a good idea or solution I’ll listen to it and act upon it,” he added.

“In fairness to the owners and directors they’ve not once said to me ‘you musn’t speak to them’, even though they’ve had a bad experience in the past.

“I want to form my own opinions. We’ll see how we go along the way.  If you didn’t see the value of fans before the pandemic go to a game now and you will see the value of fans.”

Evans got a sense of the strength of feeling among the fanbase with the release of a survey from PTB but insists he was not surprised by the findings.

Of the 1,134 people who responded almost 90 per cent said they did not think Lemsagam was the right man to take the club forward, with supporters also expressing concern about the role of Abdallah’s brother Mohamed as the club’s sporting director.

Evans said: “The results were 100 per cent what I expected and I challenged them a little bit with regards to, and talking hypothetically, say tomorrow Abdallah announces the North Stand has been resolved and Harry Kewell wins the next three games.

“Would Abdallah’s not the right man at 87 per cent be the same? They all accepted it wouldn’t.

“We’re not in a good period for doing surveys but I accept why they did it. We would never try to stop them nor would I be allowed to stop them, but it is what it is.

“The priorities which came out were communication, which I’m working on. They also questioned the role of the sporting director and the interference of the team.

“The role of the sporting director is different in a lot of clubs. The sporting director at the club I came out of (Bury) ran the training ground and he recruited the players after being told ‘we need a left-footed, left winger’ for example and off he went to get the options.

“What Mo is accused of doing is what a lot of other sporting directors do.

“In terms of interference in the team some ex-managers have come out with that but they only came out with that after they finished and not at the time which is a bit unusual.

“I can’t comment on that though because I don’t sit in coaching sessions and I’m not on every football call.

“When it comes to communicating I’m not going to communicate stuff where it’s ‘you told us that three months ago’. I don’t want to confuse people with the same old story.

“The board are accused of not saying anything about the North Stand, there’s nothing to say at the moment. If the club came out with a statement it would be ‘yawn, yawn, yawn, same old, same old’. You can’t win.

“Push The Boundary have been thoroughly decent, I’ve enjoyed my meetings and we’re going to do them on a monthly basis.”

“If they’re getting something out of them great, I certainly am.”