Grounds for optimism

Monday 8th February 2010 18:27

Boundary Park: a depressing experience, says Paul

Boundary Park: a depressing experience, says Paul

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Oldham FanZoner Paul Prendergast says a move away from Boundary Park is needed to kickstart the club.

Failsworth can't fail, says FanZoner Paul Prendergast

Anyone who has been to Boundary Park lately will have seen that it really is in need of some TLC; the old girl has seen far better days and the owners' decision to knock down the Broadway Stand in the summer of 2008 was seen by many as the beginning of the rebuilding process that would see the owners' dreams of a new Oldham Arena come true.

Sadly, due to many delays - some out of the club's control - the world hasd moved on. The land around the ground had halved in value and was not in as much demand as it had been two years earlier. The scheme stalled, then it was mothballed, finally the scheme to redevelop Boundary Park was abandoned.

In July 2009, the owners announced they intended to move the club a few miles down the road and although still technically in Oldham Metropolitan Borough, the new stadium would be in Manchester City and United's heartlands (in fact where isn't Man Utd's heartland?).

Ominously the new stadium will only be two or three miles at most from Eastlands, which is worrying to many Latics fans as crowds have already dropped alarmingly this season. Of course that can be linked to a poor product on the pitch, the depressing match-day experience at the dilapidated Boundary Park - which has become quite frankly an embarrassing state.

The condition of our spiritual home and the perceived high cost of attending third-tier football matches are all reasons given for our current poor crowds.

Pessimistic

So why move to Failsworth? Well, after several false dawns this project (subject to council approval) could be a real goer, many have argued that the initial 12,000 capacity is far too low but if partners can be brought on board at an early stage then in fact the capacity would be nearer 16,000 which in many people's opinion is more than enough for Oldham Athletic and I share that belief.

There is a real doom and gloom around the club at the moment, Oldhamers are generally a pessimistic lot that are reluctant to change, but if the owners do finally deliver the new ground they promised when they rode into town as 'The Three Amigos' - Saviour's of Oldham Athletic - in late 2003, then I believe that many Latics fans will be curious and eventually come on board.

Wigan Athletic were getting crowds of 1,500 12-13 years ago and look at them now. Our club is struggling in every area at the moment and a new ground hopefully will be a much-needed catalyst to bring back a feel-good factor to the club.

Obviously improving fortunes on the field can improve this too, but the club needs to gain some much-needed forward momentum.

A new ground has not worked for everybody: for every Wigan see Oxford, for every Swansea see Darlington. But it would be great for Oldham Athletic to finally turn a corner and begin to rebuild a club that was a founding member of the Premier League.

Progressive

As well as the club becoming more forward-thinking and more progressive than it has ever been then so do the fans themselves need to take a long hard look at themselves and think, is there more I can do to help my club succeed?

The club motto is 'Keep The Faith', that in my opinion is a defeatist motto that screams of an austere mentality of make do and mend! I'm a teacher and we have a saying in our school of "Don't tell me the sky's the limit, when there are footprints on the moon!"

If it was up to me that statement would be plastered on the dressing room walls today!

Money is king in modern-day football, but well-managed clubs can achieve; just look at Wigan, Bolton, West Brom, Swansea and Blackpool - all in the real doldrums 15-20 years ago, but just look where they are now.

Time for Oldham Athletic's owners and Oldham Metropolitan Council to finally deliver what the club, the long-suffering fans and the town of Oldham desperately needs - a stadium to be proud of, a launch pad for bigger and better things!

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