Knights on crusade for change

Stephen Smith delivering the letter to Bloomfield Road
Stephen Smith delivering the letter to Bloomfield Road
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Tangerine Knights are the latest supporters’ group to write an open letter to Blackpool FC demanding the departure of chairman Karl Oyston.

This fans’ organisation was behind Saturday’s protest, which saw close to 500 boycotting the home draw with Leeds and cheering on non-league AFC Blackpool at Jepson Way instead.

Their letter, intended for Owen Oyston and hand-delivered to the club yesterday afternoon, is printed in full on page 45.

It appeals to the owner to remove his son, Karl, from the role of chairman, put the club up for sale and meet with the supporters’ group in person.

It reads: “We call on you to install a chief executive and for Karl to resign as chairman of the club.

“We further call on you to start proceedings to sell the entire club, including the stadium.

“You have always stated that you are first and foremost a fan of the club.

“In our opinion, as a fan, you must see past family and see that for the future of the club radical changes must be made.”

The letter was delivered by Stephen Smith, The Gazette also received a copy. It reads:

We write to you today an open letter about the club we all love, Blackpool FC, and of which you are the current custodians.

The Tangerine Knights are, as Blackpool supporters, a collective of fans committed to radical change in the club, as you are no doubt aware.

We wish to begin by mentioning the fundamentals of Blackpool FC, a club that was formed at a meeting held at the Stanley Arms public house, Church Street, on 26 July 1877.

Since that time there have been various custodians of the Seasiders, right up to yourselves as current custodians.

However, it should be borne in mind that whilst club owners can and will come and go, as with all football clubs, the core of the club has always been and always will be the fans and the local community.

When you first bought the club it was going nowhere fast. It was only in the early part of the 21st century that things started to change and you yourself have openly stated that it was only with the investment and involvement of Valeri Belokon that we were finally promoted back up to the top flight in 2010.

Without him that probably would not have happened. Over 37,000 fans went down to Wembley.

The potential was there to develop and grow the club and win over a whole new generation of fans.

Yet we now have the farcical situation where, as the Blackpool Gazette stated, we are “marooned at the bottom of the league”, with attendances slumping to alarming levels, despite the comical ‘official crowd’ figures put out every other game.

Whole families have returned their season ticket cards to the club, others have torn up their cards, others have simply stopped going.

Of course fans still go to home games, but the atmosphere would best be described as horrendous, with the only real support coming from chants against you and your son.

Yes, the club is debt-free but it is heading into an abyss.

We have our own view on the future of the club, which we fully believe has to be under new ownership in order to reinvigorate and revive the club we all love, the club which you have always stated you are first and foremost a fan of.

Club owners come and go, fans remain for life. We hope that you can look at this whole issue from the point of view of being a fan, rather than the owner.

And this is what we urge you to consider and look at when reading this letter. We only care about the club. It is in our blood and always will be.

We simply want what is best for our club and we will continue to do so. We will not give up.

We cannot see any future in which the club can possibly prosper with Karl as chairman. Too much has happened, far too many actions and words that cannot be taken back.

The fans feel completely disconnected from the club; a breach that has been caused by the chairman of the club (Karl).

His behaviour has reaped even more embarrassment on the club this week, with the news that the FA are charging him with misconduct, constituting five aggravated breaches of FA rules in an unpleasant text exchange with our senior member, Stephen Smith.

We call on you to install a chief executive and for Karl to resign as chairman of the club.

We further call on you to start proceedings to sell the entire club, including the stadium.

You have always stated, as we mentioned above, that you are first and foremost a fan of the club. In our opinion, as a fan of the club you must see past family and see that for the future of the club radical changes must be made. This has to begin with a new chairman and/or chief executive and the club being put up for sale.

In the meantime, we call on you to give the manager a salary and transfer budget next season befitting a club that is not in debt and, as Karl has previously stated, is “cash rich”.

Blackpool have just posted profits of over £9m. We will in theory be one of the richest, if not the richest club in League One.

We need to be looking to the future and planning ahead to stop the farcical approach to recent seasons. The manager needs to be given what previous managers have not been given – the ability to complete transfers early in the transfer window.

We call for the club to make no further interest-free loans to subsidiary companies.

In addition to start working on and publishing a strategy to sustain the club in the long term and how the entire club can be turned around.

What plans are in place for the interest-free loans to be repaid and what is the timescale? Blackpool players continue to endure facilities at Squires Gate which have been described as “not fit for purpose” and “a hell hole”.

Karl himself has for a number of years been stating they will be replaced soon. This is the 21st century and you have a duty of care to provide decent facilities for your employees. Facilities at Squires Gate are neither adequate nor appropriate for a club of our standing. This is simply not acceptable at all.

Further to this Owen, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our concerns and hopefully reach an amicable conclusion to the spate of recent disastrous events both on and off the pitch.