Oldham have been relegated from League Two after a badly interrupted 2-1 home defeat by Salford ended their 115-year stay in the Football League. The club have become the first club to have played in the Premier League to drop out of the top four divisions of the game in England.
The result was confirmed only after a pitch invasion at Boundary Park from hundreds of furious fans who held a banner that read “Get out of our club”, aimed at the owner, Abdallah Lemsagam.
Earlier, supporters had chanted: “We want our club back,” and: “We’re not going anywhere,” as stewards struggled to maintain order.
Both sets of players were escorted off the field by the referee, Bobby Madley, with the last of the protesters then not leaving the pitch for almost an hour. The match was then initially abandoned before the final 12 minutes were played out behind closed doors, eventually resulting in the Latics’ fourth straight defeat.
In a statement, the EFL said: “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 made in order to maintain the integrity of the competition given the importance of the fixture at both ends of the League Two table.”
Oldham, who had issues with pitch invasions earlier in the season, are now likely to see the misery of relegation followed by punishment from both the Football Association and the EFL.
All three goals in the game came in the first half, with Matt Smith – a former Oldham player – and Brandon Thomas-Asante scoring for the visitors either side of Davis Keillor-Dunn’s penalty for the hosts after Jordan Turnbull was judged to have handled the ball.
The Latics’ relegation rivals Barrow and Stevenage won their games, beating promotion-chasing Sutton and Tranmere respectively, taking them both to 44 points – second-bottom Oldham are on 37 with only two games and six points still to play for.
Their slide down the divisions began in 1994, when they matched their 1990 run to the FA Cup semi-finals but finished second-bottom after three seasons in the top tier. Three years later, in 1997, the late-season appointment of Neil Warnock failed to yield the results they needed to stave off another relegation.
Relative stability followed, with 21 seasons spent in the third tier of English football, including chances in the playoffs in 2003 and 2007, which both ended at the semi-final stage. However, in 2018 the club dropped to League Two and four years on their decline means they will play in the National League from next season.