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Pat Nevin had scored a solo goal, beating “three, maybe five players”. Nevin presented the programme, finding seconds of highlights via Czech archives.

His goal was scuffed off a post, but his dribble was as impressive as he’d believed. “It’s like a half-remembered dream, only loads better,” Nevin exclaimed. A reunion at Hampden followed, and the sight of men nearing with their teenage trophy was an unshowy delight. Sky and BT, take note.

John Earls

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Darren Royle, son of former manager Joe, was central to the deal for Oldham’s takeover


This column is not just here for the nasty things in life, and in the past month two of English football’s most protracted crises, at Derby and Oldham, have moved towards resolution with takeovers secured.

Derby County’s long period in administration – during which the club’s tax debt rose to £ million and other debts exceeded £ m – featured a number of failed bids, most recently from the US businessman Chris Kirchner last month, a failure that seemed to precipitate the departure of Wayne Rooney as manager. But a concrete deal was finally sealed at the end of June when local property developer and Derby fan David Clowes took control, crucially reuniting ground and club ownership; Pride Park had been contentiously sold by former owner Mel Morris to one of his own companies for £ m to get round the EFL’s financial regulations.

Clowes paid £ m for the ground and inherited a club with only seven contracted players, but squad strengthening under interim manager Liam Rosenior has begun in earnest for the coming League One campaign and there is at last a mood of guarded optimism.

“We’re still cautious,” said the Rams Trust’s John Atkin, “because we’ve been here before with prominent local businessmen buying the club – Mel Morris himself was one – but Clowes doesn’t like the limelight in the same way. He doesn’t want to do interviews, would rather sit in the crowd as a fan and has a far more

Lawrence Bassini, who is now hovering around crisis club Birmingham City common touch than Morris.” The trust has met Clowes’s PR representative and is hopeful of greater engagement under the new regime after years of financial murk.

The ruinous tenure of Abdallah Lemsagam at Oldham Athletic also reached its endpoint last month, the Latics having plummeted out of the Football League after a calamitous ownership characterised by an incontinent transfer policy and nine managers in under five years. A deal has been brokered by Darren Royle, son of former manager Joe, and head coach John Sheridan with Lemsagam and the previous owner, Simon Blitz, whose company Brass Bank co-owned the stadium.

The situation had been complicated by a dispute between Brass Bank and the club over the latter’s unpaid debts to Blitz’s company, but the resolution of this, plus the deal fronted by Royle and Sheridan, has – as at Derby – brought Boundary Park under the same ownership as the club. Fans await more details of the owners’ identity, which is expected to be revealed once the owners and directors’ test has been passed. But they have been described as a “successful local business”, and heads of terms have been agreed for the sale.

Fans’ fundraising as the crisis deepened, including a Fans v Legends match, has brought in more than £ , , and the Oldham Athletic Supporters Foundation, which retains a three per cent stake in the club, said it was encouraged by the takeover: “There is still work to be done and questions which need to be asked of the new investor in terms of due diligence , but we warmly welcome the announcement as a significant turning point. Darren Royle assured us, on behalf of the new investor, that our involvement in the future development and progress of the club is absolutely crucial and integral to their plans.”

Carlisle United turned things round impressively on the pitch in the second half of last season but their outlook off it is clouded by a stalemate over an unpaid £ . m debt to finance company Purepay, a legacy of previous owner Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which is happily hoovering up interest while no one has the ability or


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