After spending the last 5 years or so with no North stand it is actually quite nice to see good progress with the new stand, even if it won’t be ready for the start of the season. The new stand, however, will be in the newly named Sportsdirect.com Park rather than Boundary Park.
The whole stadium sponsorship and name change debate is something I have never really thought much of until it happened to my club. On the one hand, understandably I disagree with the stadium no longer being called Boundary Park, that has been the name for over 100 years and believe it or not, a lot of history has been made at Boundary Park including winning the second division championship and playing in the first ever Premier league season. To many fans it will always be known as BP. On the other hand though there is the cash. Like many lower league clubs at the moment, Oldham Athletic need any money they can get. In recent years revenue has increased due to big FA cup games against Liverpool and Everton bringing in fans but we are still in the simplest form, a selling club. In the 13 years that I have been watching Oldham I have seen numerous high quality players come and go through the revolving door here at Oldham with still no sign of a promotion. This is because we are forced to sell any player that shows signs of being a quality first team player to bigger clubs to bring in revenue. This is where the positive of the sportsdirect.com sponsorship comes in. If reports directly from there club are to believed, the fee received from the deal is a seven figure sum. This could finally ensure that the club has enough cash to survive and run well without having to sell any players who look good this season. This could be the extra boost the club needs to finally push for the play off spots like smaller teams such as Rotherham and Leyton Orient have done in recent years.
All in all I do feel there are more positives regarding the sponsorship than negatives and with some new signings and good football, fans will be won around. It is the other half of the record breaking deal that is causing problems at Oldham Athletic. As well as the ground name change, Sports direct will now run Oldham new club store which will be built on the site of the new North stand. This leaves a number of issues, the main of which being that we do not currently have a club shop until the stand is fully built. This again could be key revenue lost by the club as pre season sales of merchandise is not possible. Also Sports Direct owned Sondico have been chosen to supply the clubs kits. This has caused the most controversy as we are now nearly two weeks away from the start of the League one season and still the club has not released any kits. This has meant the first team side has been playing pre season in training shirts. The main issue with this delay however is the fact that the club has not been able to sell any kits meaning more loss in revenue, as well as the fact that loyal fans cannot purchase a replica kit until the season starts.
Despite all this confusion, things are looking brighter at Oldham. Pre season has looked very positive including a win over Premier league side Newcastle. This group of players looks to be gelling well together and playing good football that could see us hard to beat next season. And with some good first team signings by Lee Johnson with the sponsorship money, this season could just be the one where they mount a big push for promotion. Well we can hope