Oldham Athletic relegated from Football League after 115 years as protesters invade pitch

  • Report by Granada Reports sports correspondent Chris Hall

Oldham Athletic has been relegated from the Football League after 115 years.

The team's century-long stay came to a chaotic end at Boundary Park on Saturday 23 April, as Latics fans invaded the pitch in the 79th minute protesting against owner Abdallah Lemsagam.

As fans refused to leave, both Oldham players and their opponents Salford, were escorted off the field by referee Bobby Madley.

The last of the protesters did not leave the pitch for almost an hour.

Oldham fans invaded the pitch in the 79th minute with banners protesting against the club's owner. Credit: @Leemorris__ / PA Images

After an initial announcement at the ground that the League Two game had been abandoned, the EFL later insisted it must restart.

The final 11 minutes of the game were played behind closed doors later in the evening, with the match finishing 2-1 to Salford.

The fourth straight loss means Oldham are the first former Premier League side to drop out of the league.

Abdallah Lemsagam has been unpopular at Oldham since taking over the club in 2018.

As the match began, furious fans chanted “We want our club back” and “We’re not going anywhere” as stewards struggled to maintain order.

They also held up a banner on the pitch which read “Get out of our club”.

Oldham, who had issues with pitch invasions earlier in the season, are now likely to face severe punishment from the Football Association and the EFL.

Who is Abdallah Lemsagam?

  • Lemsagam is a Moroccan former football agent has owned the club since 2018, but his decision-making has made him unpopular with the supporters.

  • In his first season at the club the team were relegated from League One.

  • In summer 2021, more than 3,000 fans signed a petition urging Lemsagam to sell the club to new owners.

  • In January 2022 Lemsagam released a statement confirming his intention to sell up after acknowledging his presence at the club has caused "unrest".

As protesters invaded the pitch the players from both Oldham and Salford were taken off the pitch. Credit: @Leemorris__ / PA Images

Salford co-owner Gary Neville, who was at the match, tweeted during the pitch invasion: “Just left Oldham v Salford. Oldham fans on the pitch and it’s pretty moody.”

Angela Rayner, the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, sympathised with the club’s supporters.

She said on Twitter: “Solidarity with all Oldham supporters today.

“You are the heart and soul of this club and it’s devastating to see true fans paying the price for others’ mistakes.

“Your voice must now be listened to. Speak truth to power, stick together and be back stronger.”

Fans invaded the pitch as news filtered through that relegation rivals Stevenage and Barrow were both leading in their fixtures.

Neither club issued any further reaction to the scenes after the game was finally completed at 6.43pm, but the EFL did release a statement explaining the decision to restart the game.

A spokesperson said on the EFL Communications’ Twitter account: “Despite the earlier announcement of the abandonment of the fixture, after discussions with both clubs, match officials and stadium security it was agreed the match could be concluded today.

"The decision was taken in order to maintain the integrity of the competition given the importance of the fixture at both ends of the League Two table."