New Oldham Athletic owner Frank Rothwell tells fans ‘the pain is over’ after completing £12m takeover of the crisis club… as he vows to bring the good times back to Boundary Park
- Local businessman Frank Rothwell has completed a £12m takeover of Oldham
- It follows the controversial and unpopular regime of Abdallah Lemsagam
- Oldham dropped out of the Football League altogether under the former owner
- Rothwell has told supporters that the ‘pain is over’ following his takeover
New Oldham Athletic owner Frank Rothwell has told fans ‘the pain is over’ after completing a £12m of the previously turmoiled club.
At a raucous and at-times surreal press conference the local businessman, who rowed across the Atlantic at the age of 70, vowed to bring the good times back to Boundary Park following the controversial and deeply unpopular regime of Abdallah Lemsagam.
Under the Moroccan former football agent, the Premier League founder members were relegated twice in the space of four years, dropping out of the league entirely last season. Wages were paid late on a number of occasions, 12 managers came and went in four years and desperate fans invaded the pitch on a number of occasions to protest.
Indeed, it is understood that Oldham were just days away from being liquidated before Rothwell stepped in. And amid joyous scenes the 72-year-old stopped the unveiling to greet crowds that had gathered outside the ground, swigging champagne, to hail a new era.
The deal was set up by Darren Royle, son of Oldham legend Joe, who will become chief executive and take a seat on the board along with his father.
Frank Rothwell has completed the £12m takeover of previously turmoiled club Oldham
‘I hope you grasp I’m passionate about Oldham,’ said Rothwell, who has also rowed around the world, holds two Guinness world records and is a freeman of the borough.
‘A successful club will have a significant impact on the lives of people in Oldham. The pain is over now.’
Rothwell, who also starred on a Bear Grylls’ reality show and who made his fortune via his Manchester-based cabins company, also turned to manager John Sheridan and joked: ‘We’re in a league we can easily handle!’
Rothwell replaces Abdallah Lemsagam (right) after the latter’s deeply unpopular regime of the club
Oldham fans protested against Lemsagam during a bitter campaign in which they dropped out of the Football League
Darren Royle hailed ‘a very important day in the 127-year history of the club and for the town’.
He said: ‘It’s new start and opportunity for the club. Some of us will remember the glory years and some of the more barren times. Today’s an opportunity to look forward. It’s a dream ticket for the town, local people with the best interests of the club and community at heart.’
Royle also turned to Rothwell and joked: ‘If you thought the Atlantic was tough and a white knuckle ride, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’
Rothwell is a local businessman and rowed across the Atlantic at the age of 70
Rothwell told fans their ‘pain is over’ and has vowed to bring the good times back
Rothwell, who left school at 14 and who has lived in the town for close to 50 years, also set out his ambitions for the club.
‘I think every football club has its natural level,’ he explained. ‘Where’s Oldham’s level? It’s top of League One, banging on the door of the Championship. That’s where we want to be. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.
‘We can’t promise the Premier League, it’s happened before but that’s a long way off and a major challenge. Let’s get people being proud of Oldham again, talking about the club at the chippy, at school, in the canteen at work.
‘I want people to feel like they own the football club.’
The final remnants of the Lemsagam regime left Boundary Park yesterday with Mohamed, the previous owner’s brother and much-maligned director of football, last seen walking to his car with a coffee machine under his arm.
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