Based in Greater Manchester, Oldham Athletic has proved a mainstay in League One and has played at that level since 1997.
Formed under the name of Pine Villa FC in 1885, The Latics have had to deal with numerous managerial changes and possible liquidation in recent years, but are managing well under the stewardship of Paul Dickov.
Football Focus magazine talked to Oldham Athletics Commercial Manager Jenny Warburton, who told us a little bit more about the goings on at Boundary Park, and she started with the clubs impressive youth system.
“The development of young players is crucial for clubs at our level and we invest substantially in our Academy to achieve the objective of developing young talent with the aim of the players signing professional contracts. Tony Philliskirk, the head of our youth academy, believes that they are the lifeblood of the club.
“Players that come through the youth system have a tremendous affinity to the club and they have a positive impact in respect of becoming potential first team players and therefore marketable assets for the future. This season, we have already seen Chris Sutherland and Joe Cooper, who are both still under 18 youth team players, involved at first team level.
“Young players are integrated into the professional set up seamlessly as a result of the professional and youth departments working closely together. Being a fairly small club, together with the fact that all players report directly to Boundary Park means the integrations is usually a natural one. The young and professional players are always in contact and often the manager will organise joint training which encourages the integration further.”
In terms of the clubs finances, Warburton suggests that investment through utilizing the stadium and its assets is the way forward.
“We do a great deal with the resources and facilities that we have. It’s no secret that this is extremely difficult. The facilities being what they are we are constantly turning business away for lack of space, it’s so frustrating. The new stand will hopefully provide so much commercial opportunity and we plan to use it to its full potential.
“At the end of last season, we launched a volunteer scheme which saw fans volunteering their services to the club to help give it a much needed facelift. The initiative was a great success and we are extremely grateful to those who offered their services. The proposed new North Stand will provide improved facilities for clubs and fans alike. It can’t come soon enough for us as it will provide a huge amount of much needed ‘off the pitch’ revenue for us too.
“In today’s day and age, football clubs across the board have to look to other forms of revenue as, sadly, it simply isn’t enough to just play football. We have a very pro-active commercial department now, so once the facility is in place, the opportunities are endless.”
A large part of the successful volunteer campaign comes from Oldham’s close ties to its local community, and sees itself as a vital part of the surrounding area.
“Last year alone our community trust worked closely with over 7,000 primary school children. This year we have set up a new match day club, which enables young people to enjoy an Oldham Athletic match day experience. We have also introduced a brand new “Team of the Week” initiative, which invites a different grassroots football team to every home fixture. The team get to spend the day with us here at Oldham, experience the match day activities including forming a guard of honour as the players run out onto the pitch, and at half-time play a football game in front of the home crowd.”
On the hopes for the future of The Latics, Jenny Warburton suggests improving the clubs facilities, whilst also pushing for progress within the youth system and FA Cup as the clubs main aims.
“Naturally we would like to progress up the Npower League One table and continue as far as we can in the FA Cup. The youth department will continue to work hard and develop more young players for the first team squad. Commercially, we are stronger than we have been for a very long time so we aim to build upon that in preparations for the new stand.
“The youth department are hoping to gain category three status as an Academy in the new FA and Premier League guidelines and continue to provide the club with young players that can develop into the first team or sold to other clubs to provide much needed additional income.
“We look to increasing the revenues from off field activities and continue to grow and improve the commercial department as we have done over the past 2 seasons. We will throw our everything into making the new stand as profitable as possible. We will also be working closer with the community trust helping to bring together the people of Oldham and making the borough as active, healthy and united as we possibly can.”