On Wednesday 18 January a group of OASF board members met with Darren Royle at Boundary Park as part of a series of monthly meetings between OASF and the Club. We have included a summary of the discussion for our members below:
General Club Update
The current focus off-the-pitch at the Club is to integrate its various elements such as the gym and Oldham Event Centre.
Purchase of Boundary Park and the surrounding land
Darren expressed that the purchase of Boundary Park and the surrounding land is very close. The Club is moving as fast as possible as they are still incurring costs.
Protections for Boundary Park and surrounding land
OASF has been working with a volunteer who is a planning expert on a proposal to change the planning designation for Boundary Park and the surrounding land as a strategic community and recreation facility as part of the Council’s Oldham Local Plan. This would build on existing protections and better safeguard against further developments which would not be for the benefit of the Club. Whilst OASF is confident that there is no immediate threat, it is important that steps are taken to safeguard the home of our club for the long-term.
In the meeting, OASF sought to get Darren’s agreement to join our proposal to ensure that any changes to the planning designation would not cut across the current ownership’s plans to redevelop Boundary Park. Darren said he would seek Board Level approval for the proposal. Then he set out a potential plan for a multi-sport university campus style setup around Boundary Park.
He also mentioned that, in preparation for promotion to the Football League, the Club needs at least a 10-year lease on Boundary Park but the current lease only has 8 years remaining. The Club could secure a 25 to 50-year lease on Boundary Park in due course. OASF pointed out that this does not protect the surrounding land should new, less reputable owners take over in the future.
OASF raised that the Club has cancelled several official coaches for Latics supporters travelling to away games, most recently for the fixture at Wealdstone. Darren explained that the decision was made for financial reasons: the Club was due to lose £1,500 on the most recent cancelled trip with total losses on coach travel this season over £3,000.
OASF suggested several solutions:
Offsetting the losses on less popular journeys with those which are more popular was not deemed feasible as, for example, the Club made £200 on coach travel to Notts County.
Reducing the size of the coach was also not considered viable as it would not save enough money as most of the cost is covering a driver and fuel.
OASF suggested that communicating how many seats need to be sold to make the trip viable, along with regular updates as the deadline approaches, would help.
Darren suggested OASF take on organising away coach travel. However, as set out above, the current losses incurred for providing this service would be prohibitive for OASF.
Season Tickets 2023/24
OASF requested details of pricing/financing details for next season’s season tickets. Darren promised to provide planned pricing at our next meeting for OASF to review.
Darren confirmed that the promised Fans Forum will be held at the end of February at the Oldham Event Centre (Joe Royle Stand) and will also be streamed online for those unable to attend in person.
Joe Royle Stand
The top floor of the Joe Royle Stand could been designated as an education/learning space.
The Club has assessed the space in the stand and could expand capacity with 400 additional seats should it be required in the future and there was a business case and capacity demand.
The club are exploring plans to unify the two sides of the concourse to create a longer double-sided bar, reducing pressure on the current kiosks.
OASF raised some rumours that had been passed to us by members that the main stand was going to be closed for renovation. Darren confirmed that the rumours were not true and the main stand is not closing.
The Boundary Park pitch is planned to be replaced at the end of this season at a significant cost.
The club are reviewing the joint operational agreement drafted by OASF setting out our expectations for one another including frequency of meetings. Darren promised to get it signed in the coming weeks subject to review by Peter Norbury. OASF will publish the agreement for members once it has been signed.
OAFC Contacts List
OASF requested a contact list for relevant personnel within the Club so that not all questions need to go via Darren. OASF already hold some contacts, but a definitive list and more joined-up working would be beneficial. Darren agreed to provide this.
School Science Programme
There is planning underway with local schools around a science programme which would culminate in an event at Boundary Park around STEM that would fit in with current STEM education initiatives. The objective would be to inspire a new generation of scientists in schools whilst enhancing a sense of civic pride in Oldham