Date: 18th May 2009 at 10:11am
Written by:

We are running a debate about the involvement of the Oyston family over the next two days on the forum.

Today we present to you the case against the Oyston’s, and that will be followed up tomorrow with the case for the family running Blackpool Football Club.

Thanks to LaytonSeasider for this article.

The Oyston’s #1
By LaytonSeasider

The name Oyston for many Blackpool fans conjures up feelings of deep seated resentment and mistrust, this because our once distinguished club is now perceived as unfashionable, pitiable and small fry. Blackpool FC is, and has been for 2 years, a Championship club, playing in the 6th most lucrative league in Europe although the stadium has not matched the elevated status of the team and has remained unchanged in over 8 years. Football is a unique institution with working class roots, but seldom is the ambition of the fans matched by the ruling classes. Karl Oyston was rubbing his hands with glee after the 2007 Wembley play off win; he must now be in a euphoric trance after securing Championship football for an unprecedented third year and the bumper TV royalties that brings.

Nothing in life can match the passion and the Joie de vivre of backing your home town club. Owen Oyston, a St Josephs College schoolboy, a self proclaimed fanatic of Blackpool FC bought into our famous club in 1987 and revealed ambitious promises of a 40,000 capacity super stadium with a sliding roof, top flight football, shopping malls, world famous footballers and world class entertainers such as Elton John to name but one.

Fast forward nearly 15 years to 5th December 2001, the infinitely scaled down forced redevelopment of two of the stands, due in part to the possible closure of the crumbling stadium, and Karl Oyston was delivering yet another excuse: ‘Blackpool fans were today finding comfort in a delay to the new stadium with news that the club is confident of carrying on and building a new Jimmy Armfield South Stand next year.’ And a further 3 years down the line: 21st December 2004 ‘THE construction of the Jimmy Armfield South Stand will start in February. Seasiders Chief Karl Oyston has announced that the long-awaited 2m development is finally ready to get off the ground and construction workers are on standby to start the job.’ (The stand is still at ground level 8 years on!)

1987, 2001, 2004, Plans, lies, excuses, false dawns, ensures scepticism among many fans is prevalent around Bloomfield Road. I for one have lived through the soap opera of BFC. I have heard the multitudinous lies and I have shown faith and patience and nailed my trust and hopes on the published deadlines several times. And in a Vital meeting with the chairman Oyston tried to distance himself from media predictions of redevelopments, stating that they were ill informed and inaccurate. He started to sound like some desperate 3rd world dictator with his dubious denials of culpability, all the while his spin doctor, Matt Williams, obediently nodding and affirming his refutations.

My take on the Oystons is that they are a business dynasty and they are only interested in Blackpool FC as a money making venture. Bloomfield Road is a valuable piece of central Blackpool real estate. The stalling of redevelopment in my opinion was a precursor to making a huge return on the land if the Super Casino was granted to the town. In the meantime the grants from the Lottery Commission, the Football Trust and the rents from pre-lets all ensured that all bases were covered in regards to making money on their investment in any case. The unexpected promotion to the Championship, inspite of Oyston’s lack of investment in the management team of Simon Grayson and Tony Parkes was a huge unexpected bonus.

The protestations from the Chairman that the current stadium capacity was more than enough to cover demand was then proven incorrect after our promotion to the Championship in 2007 when home game after home game fans were locked out, such was the demand. To redress the balance in the Oystons favour, and make sure there were empty seats again to strengthen his argument, the Chairman duly priced many fans out, mainly the working class cornerstone of the club, with draconian rises equivalent to 55.555%! I can’t forgive the Oystons this inexorable act of greed. My very own father who has been watching Blackpool FC since the 1930s and attended the first of Blackpool’s FA Cup Finals in 1948, is now unable to afford to see his beloved team and I along with many other Blackpool fans don’t get to as many games as was possible before the price hikes. It was later admitted by Oyston that perhaps he had got this wrong. That was a first, an Oyston admitting he was wrong!

The delay in redevelopment and the massive admission price rises are just the tip of the iceberg. The communication coming out of the club is diabolical with Oyston stating that he will only say something when there is something to say. This is wrong, a weekly or monthly update on the manager’s position, the redevelopment, or lack of it, and commercial activity is craved by many a keen fan. The range of products in the club shop is shoddy when compared to our nearest of rivals. The maintenance of the existing stands does not happen, they are rusting and cladding is falling off. The pitch is a major talking point of every visiting coach such is the state of it. The training facilities are also legendary, but in a bad way, with the likes of Lee Hendrie having a pop that he was glad he got away. There are no excuses for poor management, even Yeovil put us to shame with their slick ticketing arrangements in the build up for the 2007 play off final, and meanwhile our club had fans queuing for many hours.

As a 9 year old kid kicking a ball around the alleyways of North Shore wishing I was Bob Hatton or Tony Green I always hankered for my visits to Bloomfield Road, that Tangerine shirt looked magical, unique, bright and alluring. I have always been proud of the famous Seasiders players like Sir Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Jimmy Armfield, Alan Ball, Emelyn Hughes, all legends, all world class players. Preston for example only ever had one world class, famous player. What is Oyston doing about hooking our next generation of supporters? Gone is the ‘Quid a Kid’ promotion. Meanwhile PNE are touring our Fylde Coast schools promoting their football club. Karl Oyston in the Vital meet admitted when I asked him about promoting BFC in our schools that they were doing nothing as there was no point as there ‘is nowhere to house any more fans.’

Karl Oyston is often accused of not being a Blackpool fan, something he has started to grow irritated at, on my evidence I`m not convinced that what he does at Blackpool FC is for the love of the club.