Oh it’s good to have him back, isn’t it? The eloquence, the clarity, the integrity, the honesty. How ever did we get through those long bleak months when he was in the wilderness, without him telling it like it is? Welcome back, Barry. We missed you.
Firstly, this needs saying: it’s not fair to have a go at Suzanne Geldard for reporting what Barry Owen says. Her job is to report on what is happening at Oldham Athletic, and if he’s appointed himself as the club spokesperson, and the club are happy for him to do that, it isn’t her fault. She’s given really good coverage of the protests, she’s reported on the issues fans have been unhappy about, she’s given a platform to Push The Boundary and the Supporters Foundation, she was at the fans’ forum in May. It’s her job to ask the club what’s going on, and she doesn’t get to pick who they put forward to parrot their nonsense.
Old Bazza’s been quite busy this week. On Monday he ‘explained’ the closure of the North Stand, which mostly involved regurgitating or expanding on what he said in the Club statement. He claimed, again, that the safety certificate requires CCTV cameras to relay footage from the North Stand, bar area and concourse to the police communications box. Podcast listeners will remember that Paul Whitehead disputes this. Are we sure that the CCTV cameras in the other 3 stands are fully functional? No one would be surprised if they weren’t. Barry also said that the electrical supply in the North Stand is an issue, as it operates on a generator as its main source of power and has no back-up. Thankfully there are no power supply issues in the 3 stands that the club has chosen to open. Well, apart from that time in March when there was a power outage in the Rocky which stopped the turnstiles from operating and meant long queues and people not getting in for kick off. I’m sure that was just an unlucky one-off, though.
As well as his usual distasteful references to the Arena bombing and melodramatic speculation that "Those people [drinking in the OEC before the game] could have done anything”, Barry also fell back on his usual “I wasn’t here” when asked whether these ‘issues’ mean that the North Stand wasn’t safe last year. Well you were here the season before, Baz. And the season before that. And so on. Maybe you should conduct one of your retrospective investigations into things that happened when you were a club director. He also hilariously blustered about how, after the Salford game was abandoned, people “went off the pitch and congregated in the North Stand” (I presume he means the OEC bar) and claimed that “it could be subject to further action in that respect”. Barry. Mate. Are you seriously suggesting that you’re going to try to sue the OEC because they were open after the match, as advertised, as they always are? Are you really trying to make out there is something sinister about people leaving the ground, after the match had apparently been abandoned, with our relegation confirmed if (as we expected) the result stood, and going to the nearest bar for a drink? Does the drink server bear the iniquity of the drink consumer? Come on, now, this is embarrassing.
He also repeated the nonsense about how people should have to show a match ticket before entering the OEC on a match day. I’ve been in the Roger Palmer bar on occasion before the game (would not recommend), and I’ve never once been asked to show my ticket. Nor was I asked to show a ticket before going into the fans’ bar at Walsall, Mansfield or AFC Wimbledon. His comment that “Those people could have done anything”, regarding people having a drink before the match, shows his utter contempt for the fans, yet again.
The Oldham Times stated that they had approached the FLG but they declined to comment. I think that's a bit of shame, partly because it gives Barry a chance to criticise their lack of transparency (I wonder if he's learned how to pronounce it yet), but also it would be good for them to take the opportunity to put their side of the story forward. The Oldham Times has a bigger audience than the podcast (sorry Matt), and they should use that platform to challenge Barry's narrative.
On Tuesday, Barry said that the litigation regarding the North Stand was, as we suspected, deterring potential buyers and delaying the sale of the club. Well done, Baz. Keep your foot on the club’s neck, prolong the current regime’s disastrous reign, and congratulate yourself on your diligent investigative work into something that happened on YOUR watch, when YOU were a club director. What a great asset you are. He also kept referring to the North Stand being ‘surrendered’, which seems a bit emotive and sinister. Just for a change.
On Friday afternoon, after I thought I'd pretty much finished this week's blog, another clearly-written-by-Barry club statement was issued. I wouldn't be surprised if he did it just to piss me off. It was, predictably, another load of petty pompous waffle about the North Stand. "It has been noted that those with an agenda to put financial interests before safety and security have indeed made false and misleading statements which they have relied upon to demean Club Officials." So many words, so little substance. Yada yada yada safety certificate yada procedural matters yada decreed by legislation. He actually thinks this impresses people, doesn't he? But don't worry, the club "will work towards rectifying" the appalling toilets, the lack of refreshment stalls and the access issues in the other three stands. That should probably be your starting point really, lads, rather than bitching about the owners of the North Stand and OEC.
Another week, another load of bullshit. This is just our life now, isn’t it? Trying to look for a silver lining, the signings coming in seem to be Shez signings, and are about as good as we can hope for. I did genuinely LOL when they announced Chris Porter, though. I take back what I said about him being a Judas bastard who looks like a fat squirrel. Welcome home, son.
Maybe the Porter signing is a portent of things to come and we might see some of the Legends playing in the fans’ game at Avro on Sunday 26th June unveiled in the coming weeks. Get your tickets here, come down, it’ll be a cracking afternoon. Because let’s face it, YOU PEOPLE might do ANYTHING.
Written by Arlene Finnigan