BLACKPOOL FC paid owner Owen Oyston and his companies £23.5m in the last financial year, it has been revealed.
Club accounts, which hit the headlines after they showed that Oyston received an £11m payment following the club’s season in the Premier League, also detail other multi-million pound transactions.
They include Segesta Ltd, the company which operates Blackpool FC and its stadium, paying £6.5m for a hotel next to the club’s Bloomfield Road ground. It paid a deposit of £4,899,000 to Owen Oyston for the freehold property rented to Travelodge on Bloomfield Road and then another £1.6m in August last year.
Mr Oyston is understood to have bought the land, where the Travelodge was developed, from the club before 2005 before selling it back after the hotel had been built and leased to the national chain.
Oyston’s son Karl, the Seasiders chairman, has defended the club’s accounts and, in an exclusive interview with The Gazette, the £11m paid to his father through his personal service company Zabaxe Ltd.
He said his father had pumped millions into the club since the 1980s and would continue to invest.
A £4.2m loan to Protoplan Ltd, owned and controlled by Oyston Snr, was also repaid in the financial year. Another £1.5m was paid to Promenade Developers Ltd, £280,924 to Promenade Construction Ltd, and £62,063 to Promenade Interiors Ltd for work developing the stadium. All three businesses are owned and controlled by Owen Oyston.
It means the amount paid to Mr Oyston through “group accruals and deferred income”, loans and freehold purchases totals more than £23.5m for the financial year 2010/11.
The club enjoyed a record turnover of £51m thanks to reaching the Premier League, though wages and salaries cost the club £23m – almost double the previous year’s £12m.
Glenn Bowley of the Blackpool Supporters Association said: “There needs to be more communication between the club and the supporters around its finances. I’ll be contacting the chairman to ask for a meeting on the matter.
“We need to know the club is moving forward in the next three, five and ten years. The club has come a long way and we should be able to secure a long-term future for the club, with first-class facilities on and off the pitch. There has just not been enough information from the club about the way forward.”
Steve Pye, of the Blackpool-based Federation of Small Businesses, said: “If they’re moving money around for tax purposes which benefit Blackpool FC, then so be it.
“If they’re taking back the money they’ve ploughed into the club for the past 25 years, then fair enough.
“The club could have gone under when we had 1,500 fans stood in a shed. Look at it now. But to take that money for any other reason – from the club they own – is for them and their consciences.”
One tax expert, who looked through the accounts for The Gazette but did not wish to be named, said: “The accounts are in order but there’s a lot of money going out. That’s a large amount for the Travelodge.
“With the £11m already gone to Owen Oyston’s company, there is still a large cash reserve but not as much comfort for the club as you would expect. It could be in a much better shape really.
“And there’s the £7.5m debt to Valeri Belokon to be considered. Instead of waiting to generate income from those stands, perhaps it would be more fiscally prudent to lose that debt now.
“It’s not a bad outlook. The club has been run well but with these millions moving around it’s future could be much brighter.”
Football club management company Segesta, which names both Karl and Owen Oyston as directors, donated £5,375 to charities over the year.
Karl Oyston was unavailable for further comment yesterday.