OLDHAM Athletic’s board members were advised to keep a low profile at Boundary Park amid the fans’ biggest protest against the club’s ownership so far.

Around 1,000 supporters lined Sheepfoot Lane, in front of the club’s main stand, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Hartlepool United.

Flares were let off as fed-up Latics fans congregated, raising banners and posters with the words “Abdallah out” and chanting for owner Abdallah Lemsagam to sell the club, while a coffin labelled ‘RIP OAFC’ was processed down along the pavement and placed at the doors of the main entrance.

Owner Lemsagam, who fans are desperate to oust, has not been at Boundary Park since before the Covid-19 pandemic and has instead communicated from his home in Dubai. He did not witness the demonstration, neither did his sporting director brother, Mo, has returned to his base in Germany following the closure of the transfer window.

Chief executive Karl Evans was not in his usual seat in the directors’ box, although it is understood that he did arrive at the ground after kick-off once the crowds had dispersed.

And head coach Keith Curle revealed senior staff at the club had acted on safety advice in staying away, after staff members were understood to have felt intimidated by previous protests.

“I think some of the other ancillary staff at the football club were advised by the safety officer not to be prominent in their attendance,” he explained.

“You have to take the advice of the experts. You don’t want to inflame (a situation) or infuriate people. We want the focus to be on the pitch.”

Fans have been further angered by the decision to remove the pay-on-the-day option the night before the game, which led to a number of elderly and disabled supporters being turned away at the turnstiles.

The announcement was made online and on social media by the club at 6.30pm following “strong recommendations from the SAG (Safety Advisory Group), leaving less than a four-hour window to purchase tickets in advance.

At the same time it was announced that alcohol would not be on sale inside Boundary Park.

The club statement read: “Oldham Athletic apologises for the inconvenience caused and the lateness in this communication, with all of the the above information being shared as soon as it was possible.”

The club has been asked for an additional comment.