Valeri Belokon’s exclusive interview with Vital; part two.
To read part one of the exclusive interview, click here
Are you enjoying being part of Blackpool FC?
VB – Yes, I am enjoying being part of Blackpool FC. From the first day I have enjoyed it more and more and I think that historic game at Wembley will always stay in my mind as one of the happiest days in my life.
Did the club`s promotion this season take you by surprise, especially after the poor start?
VB – I felt for the club during all season and I took loses to my heart. I remember that at one point I felt doubts, but after serious conversation with Simon I understood that he will manage and I started to believe in the team` s success. But anyway, it was a very huge and pleasing surprise.
Do Blackpool receive much media coverage in Latvia because of your investment?
VB – Well, it is hard to say, because everyone whom with I am in contact is sympathizing with the club and is questioning me what` s new in the club. I have an impression that everyone in Latvia, and abroad as well has done almost anything but followed to football season in Coca – Cola League One. If we speak seriously, I am happy about increasing mutual interest between our countries. I hope that it will have a positive impetus on closer co-operation between our countries covering other sectors of society and industry.
In what ways will you be trying to raise the profile of the club, apart from success on the field?
VB – It is said that deeds characterize a person. Same analogy could be applied to the club – our deeds characterize the club and I do not seperate myself from the club. I am honoured and proud about possibility to represent Blackpool F.C. I was especially proud when during Queen ‘s Elizabeth II reception in her visit in Latvia I was introduced to Her Britannic Majesty as President of the club.
A few fans questioned your investment in the club after the super casino decision. Do you think that your reaction to the Wembley result will have silenced such unfounded critics?
VB – I already have said that my investments in the club and case of Super Casino license is two absolutely different, unrelated things. However, I assume that critics will be forever and I treat it with understanding.
When you invested, you talked about bringing over some coaches from Latvia to work with Simon. Is that still something you`d like to do, or are you happy with the management team that Simon has assembled?
VB – Yes, I admitted such idea and I do not exclude such developments in future. However, Simon has done a tremendous work at the last season and he has proved that he is a manager in true meaning of the word. I trust in Simon and his team. If he will look for some replacements in his team and will ask me for suggestions, I will look how I could help.
What sort of decisions do you take at the club, where does your influence lie; is it solely on budgeting issues?
VB – I am a co-owner of the club, the club` s president and member of the board. I do not have a job description in the club, but if we speak seriously on the matter I try to take part in broad range of the club` s activities as much as it is possible, although it is not so much as I would like to. I take part in board meetings where we discuss and accept all kind of decisions , starting from tehnical ones and ending with strategic ones. My main task and responsibility is overall performance of the team during season. I bear full responsibility about it.
Do you simply see yourself as an investor, or would you one day perhaps like to completely own the club and be chairman?
VB – If we look back at the club`s history today`s situation in the club shows that it yields good and perspective results. Karl as the club`s chairman has done very goood job, I am more concentrated on strategic and general decisions and things in the club go smoothly – why would we have to change something in the middle of a success story? Only thing what we have discussed is about possibilities to increase my stake in the club up to 50%.
How did you first become interested in investing in BFC?
VB – The way how I came into Blackpool FC one can describe as a chance served to me by a destiny. I am happy that I am able to take part in England`s football, probably the best football in the world. It started with my searches for ways how to develop my business in England. It led me to Oystons family and I am very happy that I met with these wonderful people who trusted me and welcomed to the club.
What is your relationship like with the players and staff; does the language barrier prove a problem?
VB – I knew it! I knew that every supporter of the club knows about my terrible English language! You probably got to know about it after watching my Wembley post game interview on Sky TV. I too watched it on DVD and then put the record as far as possible
Regarding staff and players – I think they are wonderful people! I would like to thank every one of them for their fantastic work in last season and I hope on good co-operation in future.
Do you think that a large amount of funds will have to be made available to help the side compete in the Championship and can we expect funds to be made available to Simon?
VB – Money is important precondition in any business, and football is not an exception, but drawing a cheque with big amount of money is not a guarantee to success. I had a possibility to acquaint myself with budgets of clubs which played at the Championship last season. There are vast differences among clubs. I do not call for shrinking budgets, but results show that big budget does not automatically mean good results. It happens that clubs with big purses bring heavy disappointment for supporters. Simon has proved that he knows how to manage the team and board of the club has allotted necessary resources so that Blackpool could be properly prepared for the Championship.
The club made the decision not to introduce student season tickets again for next season, despite there being calls for them. Do you have a view on the matter? Should the club be trying to do more to attract and keep younger fans?
VB – We do try to attract younger fans and there are discounted tickets for younger fans. Since most students falls into two discounted categories, we can say that there are discounted season tickets for students.
In buying 20% of the club, you said at the time you would only concentrate on football matters. Do you have any involvement outside of the football squad?
VB – If you mean the club, than my answer is – yes, I am occupied by football. If you mean do I have or am I interested in making business in United Kingdom, then I would say that I am interested in this subject.
I like your tangerine tie; where did you buy it from?
VB – Thank you! I like it too very much. I would like to refrain from advertising a shop. I will give you a tip by saying that I bought it in London on Knightsbridge
represent those similes I was talking about!
All at Vital would like to thank Mr Belokon.
Mr President – Part 2
Valeri Belokon’s exclusive interview with Vital; part two.