FRANK Rothwell leans back in his chair and puffs out his cheeks in contemplation.

The Saddleworth-based businessman has just been asked if this - buying Oldham Athletic Football Club - is the biggest challenge he has taken on.

“Yes,” he says, emphatically and without hesitation.

It is a response which would not come as a surprise in most cases. But Frank Rothwell is not most cases. Frank Rothwell has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, he became the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic (and plans to do it twice more this year, the latter as a race), he has circumnavigated the globe on a yacht, participated in Bear Grylls’ survival programme ‘The Island’, beaten prostate cancer, and - before all that - started Manchester Cabins from his driveway in Royton and survived near bankruptcy to turn it into a multi-million pound business. Not bad for someone who left school at 14.

Asked if the extreme challenges in particular were good preparation for running a football club, he said: "They're not difficult. I'm in charge of that.

“Here, there are so many things I’m not in control of.

“When I’m rowing across the Atlantic I’m in control of how far I’m going to go that day. 'It’s a bit rough today, am I going to continue rowing or go for safety and put the sea anchor out?' I’m in control of that.

"Going across the Atlantic... is it hard? Yes, but it's not very hard. It's not that difficult. I did it at 70.

"I've bought a boat and as soon as I get this lot sorted I'm going training again on my new boat in Scotland to row again in February.

"I've got two planned for next year.

"First of all, things can change because I'm an old person and if anything happened to me or my wife we'd have to review it. I've got a shoulder problem now, if that develops I might have that seen to. But I plan on setting off on Valentine's Day, and then I'll finish that before April 1. And then I'll set off again on December 12 in the race again and I fancy my chances of being up with the forerunners in the race because of my experience and also my new boat.

"That means I'll do it twice in one year and that's never been done before.

"Also I'll get my time down to the mid-40 days.”

Rothwell is always striving for improvement.

Equally, he knows his limits. When it comes to football he has surrounded himself and his family with an expert field. Alongside himself, daughter Sue Schofield and son Luke on the board will sit Latics’ legendary former manager Joe Royle and his son, Darren, who brokered the deal and is the club’s new chief executive, as well as former FA lawyer Peter Norbury and former CEO of advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi Kevin Roberts.

"What can I do? All I'd do is interfere," said Rothwell, 72.

"Darren is really enthusiastic about this and he will run things on a day-to-day basis.

"We'll have board meetings.

"I don't know the voting make-up of the board but my son, my daughter and myself will split it and we'll have a board of advisors who will all talk and persuade us which way we should be going because we are very open to what happens. We haven't experienced anything yet.”

Oldham fans do not care about the extent of his football nous. Ending the disastrous Abdallah Lemsagam regime was the priority. Replacing him with someone who lives in and loves Oldham (Rothwell is a Freeman of the Borough and business ambassador) is the icing on the cake.

It does beg the question, though, why did it not happen sooner?

"What they've been asking for is someone like me, the only thing is I didn't identify it being me,” he said, going on to explain that it was not until Darren Royle went to their house to see if he knew of anyone who might be interested in forming a consortium that the notion of the family stepping in was considered.

The atmosphere on a visit to Boundary Park was another hugely influential factor, and it is at that point he is informed that The Athleticos' drummer, who he had requested to see, had arrived.

"You are the reason why we bought this club," Rothwell told Cameron Whitworth.

"All the way through the noise and singing was so loud and constant we thought it must have been recorded! Are you responsible for the Athleticos? "

Whitworth, whose Boundary Park ban from the previous regime is under review, along with others, replies: "It’s not just me, there’s quite a few of us - quite a few of us involved and a lot goes into it."

Rothwell expresses his delight at meeting him, before suggesting a new song for the group.

"Do you remember Chumbawamba? Try this: ‘We get knocked down, but we get up again, you’re never gonna keep us down’," he sings with a smile.

"I’ll do my best to get that going next season," Whitworth replied.

"Tell the lads and practice it! You’ll make a massive difference to this," Rothwell adds. "We’re going to get this place full and you’re responsible for that! We’re going to get this place full for the Dorking match. We’re going to push as much as we can."

Not long afterwards Judith, Rothwell's wife of 52 years, enters the room.

He is reminded that he has live television commitments and he bids us farewell.

Judith picks up the conversation baton - a seamless handover which tells you all about the teamwork and togetherness their marriage and subsequently family business is built on; a union that has taken them on a coast to coast journey of America on the back of a Harley Davidson and on various motorbiking breaks in Europe, the most recent one being cut short in order to get back for the takeover.

Becoming the new owners of Oldham Athletic is very much a family concern, a joint venture and joint agreement.

“We came to the Orient game which was brilliant,” Judith explained.

“Our Luke and his son came too, and he said after ‘can't we buy them?’ We said ‘you must be joking’.

“Then when Darren came… we couldn't have done it without Darren. You need somebody to run it, the club has had negatives over the last 10 years, there's no positives. If a local businessman hadn't bought it, I don't think it would have survived.”

The fans know that and recognised it, chanting his name and prompting a euphoric welcome as Rothwell received hugs and handshakes when he went out to meet those who had gathered outside of Boundary Park to hear the takeover announcement at a planned press conference last Thursday.

“He'll be on cloud nine now,” said Judith.

After four years of hurt, he is not the only one.