Fan in web comments apology to Oystons

Blackpool's Karl Oyston
Blackpool's Karl Oyston
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A Blackpool fan has apologised to the club’s owner Owen Oyston and chairman Karl Oyston for comments he made on the internet.

Lawyer Tim Fielding had been sued for defamation by the Oystons.

He posted his apology on Facebook, saying he withdrew his allegations “unreservedly”.

In a post he said: “In recent months I have made several postings on fans’ websites and social media (in my own name and under the pseudonym “ TwelveAngryMen”) in which I have referred to Karl Oyston and Owen Oyston as having “asset stripped” Blackpool Football Club; as having “misappropriated football generated funds“; and as having made large personal profits by buying assets from BFC at one price and then selling the same assets back to BFC at a substantially increased price.

“I now regret making the allegations and unreservedly withdraw these allegations.

“In particular I accept that the only part of the land on which the Travelodge hotel now stands was bought by Owen Oyston from BFC’s parent company Segesta Limited in 2007 and that the price he paid had been independently valued at fair market value. I accept that subsequently Owen Oyston sold that land, together with other land on which the Travelodge hotel has been developed and constructed by him, for a price that had again been independently valued as fair market value. I also accept that Segesta now receives substantial on-going financial benefit from the rental income of over £500,000 per year payable by Travelodge hotel.

“I accept my comments may well have led others to think that I was alleging that Karl Oyston and Owen Oyston had acted dishonestly in relation to BFC. My comments were not intended to make any such allegation, and I accept that any such allegation would be unwarranted and a serious misrepresentation.

“I recognise that my actions have, in view of my position as chairman of the BST (Blackpool Supporters Trust) helped to generate hostility towards the Oyston family. With hindsight, I am clear that I should not have made those postings and I very much regret having done so.

“I hope other users of social media, will see how damaging untrue and inaccurate postings can be.

“I would like to sincerely and unreservedly apologise to Karl Oyston and Owen Oyston for the harm distress and financial losses my comments have caused them (and by association the football club).

“In recognition of this, I have agreed with their suggestion that I should make a donation to the Blackpool FC in lieu of damages and legal costs.

“After a frank discussion with Owen Oyston, I acknowledge that Mr Owen Oyston is a genuine fan of the football club and that he and his family have only the best interest of BFC at heart. I recognise the club is now in a significantly healthier financial position that when the Oyston family first became involved with it. I note the combined net asset value at cost of Segesta and BFC were £32,000,000 as at May 2014 compared with minus £42,000 in May 1987. I accept that the Oyston family is, and has always been, for the financial stability and success of the Club.

“I believe that whilst fans and management may sometimes have differing views as to how best to seek to replicate the club’s recent success on the pitch, it is fundamental that everyone should work together rather than create divisions.”

Mr Fielding resigned as chairman of the Blackpool Supporters Trust last month.

Earlier this week, the Oystons confirmed they were seeking £150,000 damages from the website Back Henry Street over six allegedly defamatory comments in 2014.

Last week, dozens of Blackpool fans attended a court hearing in Manchester for a separate legal action brought by the Oystons against David Ragozzino.

Mr Ragozzino, 32, was given 21 days to respond to a claim for damages from the club.

In January fan Stephen Sharpe, apologised to the Oystons over his online comments, withdrawing his posts.