AROUND 170 Oldham Athletic fans gathered together for the first fans' forum since relegation from the Football League and the first question raised was "How did we get here?"

By "here" Matt Dean, a director of the Oldham Athletic Supporters' Foundation, did not just mean the National League, bringing an end to 115 years of League football. He was also referring to a revolt by fans against the club which has once more made them resort to extreme measures and brought them back to a boycott. How and why has that happened?

"People (at the top of the club) haven't been challenged and fans this season have woken up to that and tried to make a difference," said Dean.

"In our opinion fans can and will play a massive part in our future.

"We want you to leave the room with fire in your bellies.

"Oldham Athletic needs your help like never before."

It was a rousing speech which set the tone for the rest of the evening.

A panel of representatives from OASF, which has a three per cent shareholding in the club, and independent fans' group Push The Boundary PTB), each took it in turns to speak to explain why they are pushing for a change of ownership and stepping up the pressure on Abdallah Lemsagam. The room listened intently to each presentation before the floor was opened to questions and suggestions.

"We've had years of mis-management and seen it escalate over the years," said Steve Shipman, a PTB founder member.

"It's not entirely the fault of Abdallah Lemsagam, it has been a slippery slope, but it has escalated over the last four years."

PTB have been a driving force behind organised protests, which have included two demonstrations outside of Boundary Park earlier in the season and on a sombre final day when Latics' fate had already been decided.

There was nothing they could do to change that particular outcome, but the group - and others like them - have expressed their determination, now more than ever, to ensure Lemsagam sticks to his word and follows through with the intention to sell that he announced in January.

"Are we going to make decision that everyone agrees with? No," said Shipman, with reference to the action taken and that proposed, including next season's boycott.

"But every decision we make is well thought out and we try to consider all eventualities."

The groups feel they have made progress this season by giving fans a voice and somewhere to channel their frustrations. They feel they have established an allegiance with other clubs who have had similar experience of ownership battles, such as Blackpool, Leyton Orient and Charlton Athletic. Indeed, Christine Seddon, the former chair of Blackpool Supporters' Trust attended the forum and grabbed the attention - and admiration - of the entire room when she spoke of her experience at Blackpool, where fan power triumphed over the Osytons. It was a fight that took five years to win, so she prepared Latics fans for the long haul and assured them they would be stronger together.

PTB believe their close working relationship with OASF will prove to be beneficial.

"Everyone is willing to get the club back where it belongs for the right reasons," said Shipman, who explained that his decision to boycott Boundary Park, which was first taken in 2019, remains an emotive one.

"I used to go to games with my Dad. He's 82, I may not see another game with him. That's the reality, but unfortunately that's the path that I've chosen," he continued.

Brad Knowles added: "My mum was a Bury fan and not enough Bury fans did enough to raise the red flags when they were there.

"All she wanted to do was watch Bury Football Club and that was taken away from her.

"I'm stopping coming to Boundary Park personally because in my mind if I pay in to Boundary Park week in week out there will be a time I won't get into Boundary Park to watch my football team because if we keep funding this man and his brother (Abdallah and Mo Lemsagam) Oldham Athletic Football Club will cease to exist at some stage."

After questions were taken from the floor the fans' forum concluded with PTB's Shipman saying: "This is about building a club we want to see, this is about taking something that's broken and not just fixing it but making it the best version of what this can be going forward.

"We've had two play-off campaigns in the last 20 years where we've not reached the final.

"Apathy has set in.

"People think this club hasn't got potential.

"This club has got so much potential, it's got a great fanbase and people who work hard for it. All we need is a break."

Dean added: "The threat of administration is serious, the current situation of our club is dire.

"We're going to lose our football club unless we do something about it.

"I want the future of Oldham to be better as a town. I want the future of Oldham Athletic to be better."