Oyston blasts back at Belokon

Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston
Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston
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Karl Oyston has responded to Blackpool FC president Valeri Belokon’s blast at his family’s running of the club with an explosive letter of his own.

The Pool chairman came under fire from Belokon last Thursday, when the Latvian accused the Oystons of putting financial gain ahead of football matters at Bloomfield Road.

But in a letter of reply revealed exclusively to The Gazette last night, Oyston claimed Belokon is seeking to make a huge profit out of the club himself and wants to cut his ties to the Seasiders.

In the eight-page document, which will be released by the club today, Oyston addresses Belokon directly before going on to argue that the club is in a healthy position which is “virtually unique in football” and is in the “best possible hands”.

Belokon bought his 20 per cent stake in Blackpool for £1.8m in 2006, and Oyston’s letter begins by claiming that the Latvian businessman is trying to sell his shareholding back to the club for £24m.

It reads: “Valeri, if we agreed to pay £24m, that would have given you a massive profit of virtually three times the original combined cost of your shares (£1.8m) and the further £6.6m loan from you to contribute towards the construction and fit-out of the South and South West stands.

“You have already taken £1.86m from the football club at present.

“Yet you say, in your recent open letter, “now it is time to pay back what you have taken and finally ‘Put Football First’.

“How could your £24m extraction proposal amount to Putting Football First?

“If you take £24m out of the club to Latvia, how does that put football first?

“The loan agreement specifies that you receive a share of the club’s ongoing ticket, catering, commercial and season ticket income from the South and South West stand.

“May I remind you that you have resisted my repeated proposal to separate all football and non-football income.

“The non-football income could then be shared according to our agreement.

“I would further remind you that I was opposed to structuring the deal to build the South and South West stand based on the sacrifice in perpetuity of football income.

“Through your representative, Kaspar Varpins, you have asked, as recorded in the Blackpool FC board minutes, for dividend payments on your shares. How can this be putting football first?”

Belokon’s letter was released against a backdrop of negativity and frustration among the club’s supporters after two difficult seasons.

After promotion to the Premier League in 2010, leading to a huge financial boost, Belokon accused the Oystons of taking more than £11.5m out of the club in salaries and moving more than £24m to other Oyston companies in the form of interest-free loans without his approval.

Karl Oyston also addresses these claims in his letter, which states: “For 27 years my father has never taken a penny in dividends or any salary or any consultancy fees, even when, before my time, he was serving as chairman and chief executive. I have therefore resisted any such dividends.

“My father is a genuine fan, which accounts for his irrational conduct in supporting a loss-making operation for a quarter of a century.

“He has ploughed large sums of money into BFC, both in personal money and in large interest-free loans from various Oyston group companies.

“At one point, my father converted over £4m of personal loans to Blackpool Football Club into a Blackpool Football Club shareholding, adding to additional share capital, which then totalled £5.5m.

“He gave an interest-free loan of £6.5m to attract a further £2.5m grant from the Football Foundation.

“This £9m enabled me to build and fit-out most of the North, North West and West stands as you see them today.

“At that moment there was no realistic prospect of ever getting this money back.

“This financial support from my father puts your £1.8m shareholding into perspective. So, I don’t think my father needs any advice about putting both football and BFC first.

“You also say in your letter that my father and I have “channelled away more than £24m”. It is strange that this is the very sum you would have “channelled” away to Latvia if your 2013 proposal had been accepted.

“I remind you that when you purchased your 20 per cent shareholding in the football club for £1.8m, my father never took a penny of it and made sure all your £1.8m went into the football club. That was putting football first.”

Pool started this week with only eight contracted players, attracting national attention and plenty of mockery.

But Oyston is convinced the club is in the right hands. His letter states: “We have a position that is virtually unique in football.

“We are a debt-free, cash rich club, unlike many of our competitors that will suffer the ravages of transfer embargo as early as January 2015, when they fall foul of the Financial Fair Play regulations.

“This strong position does not come easily or without cost in the way we sometimes have to operate.

“Please be assured that the club is in the best possible hands as we are in this for the long term.”