Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston today revealed he has called in the police following a string of alleged online threats aimed at his family.
The under-fire Pool chief says he has also instructed libel lawyers to begin taking action against fans who he claims have posted “comments which have overstepped the mark” on online message forums.
Oyston – heavily criticised by fans for his running of the relegation-threatened club – complained to police yesterday morning after comments aimed at members of his family were posted on a social networking site.
The posts followed Pool’s 1-0 Good Friday defeat to Burnley, which saw furious fans halt the game as they threw tennis balls and tangerines onto the pitch.
Oyston claims online threats of violence were made against members of his family over the weekend – and were specifically aimed at his 14-year-old son.
He says abuse has also been aimed at his other children.
Oyston said: “Some of the threats are so unbelievable that I’ve got to do something about it.”
Oyston says a number of allegations posted on fans’ forums have targeted his father, Owen, the club’s owner.
The Pool chairman said a legal team used by the club has been monitoring online comments for around six months, and it is understood members of the family are now looking to take action against up to 30 people who have posted on Twitter and various forums.
Oyston told The Gazette while he “understands emotions were running high”, with the club facing relegation from the Championship several comments had “gone too far.”
He said: “On behalf of some of my family members I’ve made a complaint to the police about certain messages on social media. I have instructed libel lawyers to take action against those individuals who have posted the material and the publishers of it.
“I’m not hiding from criticism, this is not me I’m defending, it’s my family I’m defending.”
Oyston added: “I know how excited people get and the team has not been going very well and that’s all my fault, that’s how people see things.
“All I want to do is protect my father and sons and the rest of my family. It’s not right they have started involving other family members.
“There has been a lot of this which I probably should have reacted to and I have not because I know feelings are running high so I’ve given more latitude than I should have done. But it’s got to the point where I can’t let it pass any more.
“There is no justification whatsoever for anyone posting what they have posted or threatening what they have threatened.”
The chairman has enraged many fans who are unhappy with his running of the club and a lack of investment in the team.
This culminated in two protests at recent home games with tennis balls hurled onto the pitch and banners held aloft calling for the Oyston family to sell up.
There were also two pitch invasions by fans.
Fans were earlier angered after Oyston was pictured (above right) smiling next to a protest billboard which claimed his family were using the club as its own personal “cash cow” in reference to more than £20m of payments and loans made by the club to other Oyston-owned companies – as previously reported in The Gazette.
Following Friday’s defeat by Burnley, abusive messages were written underneath a picture posted on Twitter of Oyston’s sons, while messages have also been aimed at his 14-year-old son George, who has an account on the site.
Some fans were angry when a picture emerged on Twitter of youngsters connected to the Oyston family holding tennis rackets after the tennis ball protest.
Oyston said as well as making a criminal complaint to police about the threats, he has taken legal advice over the weekend and will look to bring civil cases against “anyone who, in my judgement, has overstepped the mark.”
The club is also looking at taking action against a social networking group linked to Friday’s tennis ball protest.
The issue has been discussed on Blackpool fan site AVFTT, with some agreeing that some comments made regarding the Oystons had gone too far.
One poster, referencing a post which read ‘I hope you die and soon’ aimed at a member of the Oyston family, said: “Some people need to take a look at themselves and ask if they would say these things to peoples faces, not out of anger but because they go beyond what is humanly decent.”
Glenn Bowley, chairman of Blackpool Supporters Association, said: “The club has had an awful two years and there’s so many problems which need to be addressed.
“My understanding is the chairman has said ‘give me as much criticism as possible’, but he has also said ‘don’t threaten or abuse my children’, and he’s totally right.
“I understand fans need to voice their opinions and tell the people who run the club they are really unhappy with the way things have gone.
“However, when it comes to threatening children it’s totally unacceptable, and the people who have done this need to take a long hard look at themselves.”