A FEW years ago, when he was young, new to the job of chairman and perhaps a tad more arrogant, Karl Oyston stated that he didn’t particularly care for football.
Given that he’s wearing odd cufflinks and tangerine trim-socks “for superstitious reasons” at Old Trafford on Sunday and admits he is struggling to sleep ahead of what is one of the biggest games in the Seasiders’ history, it’s fair to say Oyston is something of a changed man.
Gone is the brash 32-year-old who took over at Bloomfield Road during a unstable and unhappy period in the late 1990s.
In his place is a much more measured and content bloke who has finally realised why the Blackpool fans he once loathed for being too critical and outspoken were so passionate in the first place.
He said: “Have I warmed to the place? Over time you see the genuine passion that the supporters have for the club and on the whole that is expressed in a way that is positive.
“This season, in particular, has been fantastic. Just to see the stadiums we’ve been to, the crowds we’ve taken and the way our supporters have conducted themselves over this season has been fantastic.
“We’re about to be named as the best behaved supporters in the division (Pool top a Premier League table of fans) and that is testament to the support the club has got.
“I am delighted that season ticket uptake is very good and higher than at any time we were in the Championship.
“So people are putting their faith in the club and carrying on their support, and I think that is admirable because times are tough.
“We recognise that and appreciate the contribution and commitment that the supporters are making.
“It is fantastic. With the colour, the noise and the atmosphere they have brought to every away ground, I think are we quite rightly everyone’s second-favourite club.”
Oyston will be in the directors’ box at Old Trafford (“I’ve not met the Glazers but I’m sure they are looking forward to meeting me,” he joked), not that he’ll be able to enjoy the 90 minutes.
“It is going to be nervous beyond belief. I wouldn’t use the word exciting because it doesn’t do it justice,” he said. “The whole day and the lead up to it, especially for the fans, is going to be terrible.
“I’m sure the players and the manager have their routines and little good luck things they do, and they will probably deal with it better than the rest of us.
“I will be wearing my lucky cufflinks, which are an odd pair, and my tangerine-trim socks. I’m not superstitious in any aspect of my life other than football.”
Hard-nosed businessman Karl Oyston admitting to being superstitious? Did we hear that right?
“Yes, I genuinely own the lucky cufflinks. And why the hell, as a man with a rational mind, I could think that what cufflinks or colour of socks I wear could have any impact on events on the pitch is frankly beyond me. But this is football. It’s how it gets you,” he said.
“Football does weird things to you. It affects your thinking and your habits, and there is a certain appeal to that.”
Given what rests on the outcome, it’s no wonder Oyston is nervous.
Pool will gain another £40m should they stay in the Premier League for a second season and will edge closer to ensuring lasting financial security.
Go down and the outlook is still rosy – £14m parachute payments for each of the next four seasons.
But there’s no doubt survival is the preferred option. I just can’t wait for the game,” added Oyston.
“It won’t be my first trip to Old Trafford. I’ve been to England games there when I was on the FA Council. I was at the England game against Greece with my parents when David Beckham scored that goal.
“But I’ve never been there with so much at stake, and never feeling so sick and nervous.
“Hopefully we can do it ... I’m wearing the cufflinks so we’re bound to!”
Let’s hope he’s right.