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Inside Oldham Athletic’s turmoil with unpaid wages and Jack Byrne sack attempt

The beleaguered Latics are struggling at the bottom of League Two, are without a manager having dispensed of boss Keith Curle and have a fanbase unhappy with owner Abdallah Lemsagam

Oldham Athletic have been in turmoil in recent years

Oldham Athletic have had their fair share of off-field problems in recent times.

Earlier this season more than 500 Latics’ fans walked through the roads surrounding Boundary Park carrying a coffin.

It was an eye-opening protest in response to the continued ownership of the club by Abdallah Lemsagam.

The former football agent took over in 2018 but the club have since been relegated to League Two and they are currently second-bottom of the EFL and in real danger of being relegated into non-league.

They are currently managerless after Keith Curle was axed last month. The next man in charge will be the ninth manager in the Lemsagam era.

Now, a former Oldham player has shed light on the turmoil behind-the-scenes at the club.

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Fans protest outside the stadium against Oldham Athletic owner Abdallah Lemsagem

Jack Byrne joined the club in January 2018 after impressing in a loan spell the season prior.

But he lasted just eight months. He was originally suspended after relegation to League Two and forced to train with the youth team before his contract was eventually terminated.

Now, he has spoken of what life was like under Lemsagam – and how he was asked to reduce his wage despite being on a long-term contract.

Speaking on a podcast, Byrne said: “The owner called me in and wanted me to take a cut after I just signed in January..

“Why should I take a cut when they just signed me and there’s no clause in my contract to take a cut if we get relegated? They never spoke to me about it either.

“There was no way that I was going to sign for Oldham and have a pay slash if they got relegated.

“I was on the same money that I was on at Wigan and I had two years left there.

“When Oldham tried to sack me when I wasn’t leaving.

“The owner was messing about then with my wages.

“It was two weeks late again and then he was paying us. I was thinking at the time it didn’t sound great. I met him in Dubai..

“On the last day of the season he called me and told me he was going to pay the lads and you. He told me if we won he would pay for my holiday. He said he was going to have a good go if we stayed up, but we lost. We were relegated.

Jack Byrne left Oldham under a cloud

“The way that club was going I knew I had to leave eventually.”

Byrne also alleges that Lemsagam handed him a two-week suspension for supposedly injuring another player – something he refutes.

He added: “He said something about an emoji I put up on Twitter that was directed at him calling him a clown which was mental.

“He tried to suspend me again. I was at a circus with family who came over – and I tweeted that emoji – and then he tried to sack me again. I was given another two-week suspension.

“Then he said to me he’d give me a payout. But he gave me a payout after 6 o’clock and I couldn’t sign for anyone else in England so I had to go to Scotland.”

The revealing interview only adds to the chaotic picture surrounding Oldham. Back in 2019 Manchester United legend Paul Scholes was handed the manager’s role but lasted just 31 days.

Paul Scholes lasted just 31 days as Oldham Athletic boss

Scholes admitted that behind-the-scenes the club was a mess with poor facilities and no hot water at times.

And he says that interference was the reason he stepped down

Scholes said: “I’d heard loads of stories about interference and the first three weeks there was little bits of it.

“It wasn’t so much ‘leave that player out’ or ‘he can’t play’ – there was nothing like that, just subtle hints.

“In the last week there was a couple of issues with experienced professionals that I felt they didn’t deserve to be treated the way the club wanted to treat them.

“I respected the players but once I get told ‘don’t play him’ then that’s when it’s time to go.”

Oldham are back in league action on Tuesday when they host Tranmere Rovers.

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