EX-NEWCASTLE defender Olivier Bernard is the absentee owner of Durham City — the WORST team in England.
Propping up the 11th-tier Wearside League, the Citizens have shipped a ridiculous 128 goals and scored just two in 13 games.
With an embarrassing ONE win since 2019, furious fans are demanding Bernard sell up.
But the Frenchman is having none of it, firing back: “Durham City doesn’t have ANY real supporters.”
Granted, less than a dozen watched last Saturday’s perfectly normal 10-0 battering by FC Hartlepool.
Yet back in 2008, when only three promotions off the Football League, more than 1,000 would attend big games at New Ferens Park.
With a bigger population than Fleetwood, Accrington and Morecambe, the potential is there for a thriving, community-based club in Durham.
Bernard vowed to make them “one of the best feeder clubs in the North East” when taking over in 2013 — but through neglect and mismanagement, they are a bankrupt and homeless laughing stock on its last legs.
Australian Chris Tanner has run it since last December from Sydney but is so unpopular the dwindling fanbase dubbed him “Kim Jong Tan”.
Cramlington-based Bernard, 43, is unrepentant, telling SunSport: “I own it but I left two years ago.
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“I’ve got the power to change things but do I have the time? No.
“And the last thing I want to do is go down to Durham — it’s another hour’s drive.
“There are no Durham City supporters. They are now Spennymoor or Darlington fans.
“They’ve never been supporters because, for me, fans don’t switch teams. You wouldn’t switch to Sunderland if you support Newcastle.
“It could be me today but tomorrow it could be someone else.
“Either you love the club or you don’t and we don’t have many lovers.”
Durham City spent seven years in the Football League between 1921 and 1928.
Their drastic fall from grace began in 2007-08 when denied promotion to the National League North because of their artificial pitch.
Players and sponsors fled and now seven years later they have no ground following a row with the owners of New Ferens Park — over stumping up the cash to provide tea and coffee for match officials.
Via groundshares with Consett and Willington — where there remains an unsettled £2,400 debt — they now play eight miles from Durham in Houghton-le-Spring near Sunderland.
Five secretaries have come and gone in a year under chairman Tanner, while a clutch of players learned of their release earlier this season via the club’s Twitter page at 3am.
Bernard played more than 150 times for Newcastle, featuring in the Champions League under Sir Bobby Robson.
When put to him that fans have been driven away by him and Tanner, the former left-back said: “They probably have but, regardless of whether Newcastle fans liked Mike Ashley, they still went to the stadium.
“I want to help but I didn’t put Chris in place. The previous board did.
“They all left, it then went t*ts-up and they are now blaming me. I’ve got nothing to do with it.”
So why not sell and end the misery if you don’t have the time or energy?
He added: “Somebody was looking after it, so I didn’t think I had to.
And I didn’t think there was a need, it’s only recently I’ve heard things.
“The club is under my name, I’ll take it — but I’ll do the right things in a month or two.
“It’s very sad but I need to truly understand why it is like that. We’ll have a direction by Christmas but I’m not in a rush.
“Durham City was a great idea at first. I thought it was going to be different but as soon as I bought it they tried to stop me doing what I wanted.”