BARRY Owen has responded to criticism from Oldham Athletic fans following his return by insisting he only has the club's best interests at heart, and has come back to help steer Latics back to the Football League.

Owen's appointment in an advisory role, around 14 months since he left his position as club director, has been met with anger by a number of supporters.

Since Owen returned to the club the closure of the North Stand next season has been announced, based on financial and safety grounds, while a number of supporters have been issued with three-year bans from Boundary Park for their involvement in the pitch invasion which disrupted the penultimate home game of the season, against Salford City, on the day that relegation to the National League was confirmed.

A number of supporters have expressed their concerns that Owen's involvement with the club will drive an even bigger wedge between the club and the fanbase.

But Owen, who was a club director between 2004 and 2021, said: "I've taken the view that there were very good reasons why I left (last year). I wasn't happy about various incidents that had occurred at the club. The club would say they got rid of me and I would say I resigned. That's in the past.

"I spent a long period of time then with some trepidation about what had occurred. Eventually as a result of an approach by one of the other directors I was asked to re-think the position and sometimes in life you have to learn to forgive and forget.

"I'll never forget what happened but I think with the club's best interests at risk here I genuinely thought that the club was more important than any individual.

"The path was cleared for me to bury those differences and certain meetings occurred. I said at the time I didn't want to return as a director but I would come back and try to help in areas of expertise that were either gleaned from my own knowledge or from experience of the past, and that's how it's happened.

"I know it's caused some concern amongst the fanbase but I do what I do, I say what I think, and people don't like that. And what I do is try to help the football club.

"I'm a fan first and foremost, and I don't want to get involved in the arguments about personalities, ownerships or whatever. To me the survival of Oldham Athletic Football Club comes first and foremost."

He added: "I think next season is absolutely critical.

"I think with the EFL parachute payment we've got to make sure that that is used properly.

"We're currently doing some work on our profit and loss factors, what our income stream is likely to be with regard to sponsorship as well, what our spend will be, and hopefully we'll come out the other end, and I'm hopeful big things will come from next season.

"I know John is working tremendously hard to get some quality players. I'm quite excited about next season and I hope that Oldham fans can come to the ground without any fear of trepidation and support their team.

"I hope when tickets are available they're able to visit some new pastures.

"We are where we are, and it's no good crying over spilt milk, we've just got to get on with it.

"If we talk about what went wrong in the past, did it occur from 1999 or 2004 or the last four years? We could surmise forever. We could write a book on that. We've just got to get on with it now."