A GROUP of Oldham fans has urged all Latics supporters to “back the team and not the regime” and boycott home games next season in protest against owner Abdallah Lemsagam.

Fans’ group Push The Boundary has been the driving force behind measures to get the former football agent to sell his stake in the club.

Their protests began with a petition to encourage Lemsagam to leave the club after three turbulent years, drawing almost 3,000 signatures.

But after an open letter, along with the petition, was sent to the club and not publicly acknowledged - as requested by PTB - before the deadline of June 9, the group are seeking to ramp up their action in an effort to put pressure on the owner.

And despite a full season of being unable to watch Latics due to coronavirus restrictions, they are prepared to miss even more games at Boundary Park - and only attend away matches - to make their feelings towards the club’s regime clear.

In the statement to supporters, PTB said: “What we are asking is that you dedicate all of your passion and energy into supporting the team on the road and while we accept and respect that attending home games is your decision, we would urge you not to attend home games for the forthcoming season.”

The full statement reads

Everywhere We Go… For years, we have taken pride in our away following and the support we give the team on the pitch regardless of our league standing.

We have packed out away ends up and down the country, taking 6,000 to Anfield, 4,000 to Fulham and regularly taken in excess of 1,000 to stadiums in League One and League Two. This shows the unbelievable passion and loyalty that there is across our fanbase.

The 2020/21 season was strange for a number of reasons, one of the highest scorers in the division, most goals conceded and above all, none of us got to see Dylan Bahamboula play football live. Everything took place without fans and behind closed doors. We missed the late winner against Bolton and we can only imagine the bounce that would have taken place when Zak Dearnley’s shot nestled in the corner. In fairness, we have also been spared some calamitous defending, but the beauty of being a Latics fan through all these years is that despite the result, you always came back for more!

What we saw in the 2019/20 season was that away attendances dropped by circa 36% on average (based on the information available to us). The passion to turn up and support is leaving us and the main reason behind this is clear. There is a disconnect between the custodian of our club and the fans as we were continually held in the upmost disregard. This is seeing fans vote with their feet, not purchasing season tickets and vowing to not to give this regime any more financial backing.

Bringing this up to date, the uptake on season tickets is worryingly low for next season, with only circa 850 adult tickets sold for the upcoming season at a heavily reduced cost. Fans should be chomping at the bit to get back in the stadium and support the team, and we have seen this from other teams we are in competition with. Instead, we are taking a stand and voting with our feet due to the way the club is being run. We feel we have been left with no other viable option, due to the blatant disregard the owner has for supporters.

One thing we all have in common is that we love going to watch Latics, and therefore, we have listened to the great suggestions made by fans and want to put our weight behind it.

We saw attendances regularly drop below 2,500 in the 2019/20 season and based on season tickets sold, these averages can fully be expected to fall even further. It would not be a surprise to see attendances between 1,800-2,200 next season, unthinkable for our club we are sure you’ll agree.

What we are asking is that you dedicate all of your passion and energy into supporting the team on the road and while we accept and respect that attending home games is your decision, we would urge you not to attend home games for the forthcoming season. The main objectives for this campaign being:

– Attending away games only would be our way of showing that we ‘back the team, but not the regime.’

– Turning up and paying on the day means that only the home side will receive any gate receipts so we would therefore not be funding the current regime

– To shine a spotlight on our plight and show other clubs as well as the footballing authorities what we are dealing with

– To showcase the amazing support we have to any potential suitors. A passionate engaged fanbase is a big plus for anyone looking at purchasing a football club.

In order to make this a success, we will facilitate the following as best we can:

– Directions for fans travelling by various means of transport

– Arrange forms of travel for supporters where there is demand for it

– Guides to the best places to go before and after the game

– Arranging meeting points prior to games so PTB members and Latics fans can meet up and socialise before and after games

– If you regularly run travel to games we will happily advertise this for you, please get in touch with us via the usual means.

This action will be to show the owner that he has alienated the best support in the country by his actions and dragged this club to its lowest point, and worse, in our 125th year of existence.

At the same time, we get to travel and support our team, meet up like we used to do, have an amazing away day without putting any money in the owner’s pocket.

Other clubs have taken this stance and have prospered. This is not a reflection of your love for Oldham Athletic, this is a stand against the current custodians of our club.

They will most certainly not be here forever, and we need to make sure that they take the decision to hand the club to more responsible custodians sooner rather than later, and before things get any worse on their watch.

None of us enjoy being in this league, that’s fair to say, but there is nothing stopping us making the best of it while we are here while sending a clear and concise message to our owner. Sell the club. We will work with clubs in our league to ensure that as many of our fans can be accommodated at away games as possible.

Further information will be disclosed in due course but to start things off, we wanted to open this up to fans and ask you the following

– What should this initiative be called? We want something that we can all feel part of, a community of fans that’s shows the stand we are making and sends a strong message out about what we are trying to achieve ie ‘Away Day Army’ or ‘Yard Dogs’.

– Do you want to be involved? We will need all kinds of help to ensure this runs smoothly and achieves the maximum effect. Do you have specific ideas of pubs/places to go before and after games or away days you’d like to cover? Send your suggestions in.

– If you run any away day travel (or wish to do so) then please contact us and we will do our best to work with you in order to make this happen If you have any suggestions, please send them through to us via all usual platforms and for the name, we will create a shortlist that we will put to a final vote. This movement is for the fans, by the fans and we therefore want everyone included on this journey.

We can only make this affective if fans buy into it like they did at Blackpool, your support is crucial to ensure we put the necessary pressure on the owner. The days of being ignored are over.

This is YOUR club, help us Reclaim The Faith!