OLDHAM ATHLETIC chairman Simon Corney has pointed the finger at local rivals ROCHDALE for their financial problems getting out.
It emerged this week that Latics have been placed under a transfer embargo as loan fees to other clubs are still outstanding while Rochdale are still waiting to be paid for tickets sold for last month’s League One derby at the Crown Oil Arena.
There has been bad blood between the two sides since then because of Calvin Andrew’s off-the-ball clash with Oldham defender Peter Clarke. The Dale striker was hit with a 12-match ban, reduced to nine matches, for violent conduct.
But in an interview for the club’s website, Corney insists Latics will clear their debt, although he revealed they must first pay a large bill from HM Revenue & Customs.
“It’s been widely reported that we are behind in some payments to other clubs,” said Corney. “I’m asking the fans not to get too concerned about it. It’s quite common in football and there are probably quite a lot of clubs in the same situation as us.
“The cynical side of me believes that perhaps Rochdale leaked it. Maybe this is something to do with the Calvin Andrew situation, but I can’t go on record and publicly say I know that for sure.
“The boot has been on the other foot many times and normally we keep it between ourselves, especially local clubs and Division One (League One) clubs. It’s disappointing, but it is a fact of life.
“The debts will be paid, there are no two ways about it. They always do get paid, we have to pay them. If I’m honest, we have other priorities. In the next seven days we have a wage bill and HMRC bill which total over £300,000, and those have to take priority in this situation.”
Corney admits Oldham are struggling to generate revenue, partly because of a fall in home crowds. Last season they averaged 4,361, with only six teams averaging lower in League One. This term they’re currently third-lowest with 3,581.
“Cashflow is a problem here, it’s not a secret. It’s tough,” Corney added. “I think we have suffered with the crowds. We’ve also made a few contributions to fans, reducing season-ticket prices, which cost us a great deal of money. It was calculated and we did it so that fans could feel they are getting some kind of benefit. We’ve also become the lowest price for pay-on-the-day and pre-pay match tickets.
“We do suffer when we do those kind of offers, and our gates are down as well, so if you take a combination of all those factors, it has an impact, but we’ll be fine.
“It’d be a lot easier for us if we were in the division below,” added the Latics chief. “But we don’t want to be in the division below. We’ve always tried the best we can to stay in this division.
“Whilst I know we’ve had a couple of poor seasons, the football’s not been great, that’s maybe the price we pay in terms of fighting to keep our position at this level.”
Since 2009, Oldham have finished no higher than 15th and are currently third-bottom having scored just 11 goals in 19 league games. Two of them came on Tuesday night, Ollie Banks ending a goalless run of four games in the league with a 48th-minute opener before Carl Winchester’s late equaliser earned Latics a 2-2 draw at Port Vale.
“We haven’t scored many goals this season but I don’t think performances have been as bad as people have made out,” said Corney. “I feel for the manager (Steve Robinson) because we’ve come so close on so many occasions. If we had six or eight more points then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
“We’ve never had a harder working manager, the players are working hard as well, it just hasn’t gone for us. If anybody can’t see that then I don’t know what they’re looking at. That’s not to say the football’s always been great, it hasn’t. We haven’t scored enough goals and we need to address that – and we will.”