Oyston heckled during ‘harrowing’ meeting as tensions rise with fans again

Owen Oyston speaking to fans on Saturday afternoon
Owen Oyston speaking to fans on Saturday afternoon

Owen Oyston was heckled and abused as he left a ‘harrowing’ meeting with Blackpool’s fans as tensions once again rose between the club and its supporters.

The Seasiders owner made a shock appearance at Blackpool Supporters Trust’s open meeting on Saturday afternoon, in an attempt to help solve some of the long running differences.

Tensions ran high as Owen Oyston met with Blackpool fans on Saturday

Tensions ran high as Owen Oyston met with Blackpool fans on Saturday

And after taking to the stage to chants of ‘Oyston Out’, the owner was heckled throughout as he took questions from the floor.

Around 400 supporters, including club legend Jimmy Armfield, spent more than an hour questioning Oyston about the club’s recent decline, legal issues, Valeri Belekon and his intentions for the club going forward.

Oyston began the meeting by apologising to supporters for the current situation, saying: “I’m saddened by the strong feelings I heard and some of the comments.

“I do sincerely apologise for the dire football we’ve experienced over the last two years.

Tensions ran high as Owen Oyston met with Blackpool fans on Saturday

Tensions ran high as Owen Oyston met with Blackpool fans on Saturday

“It’s been awful, I hate it and I hate being in League Two. Every morning I think of ways we can resolve the situation.”

Ahead of Oyston taking to the stage a show of hands showed just six people in the room were considering renewing their season ticket for the coming League Two season.

And as the questions started to flow, it was clear legal action against supporters was a key issue.

Former chairman of BST, Tim Fielding, who himself was subject to legal action, said: “What people in this room want you to say is that all legal litigation and threats of legal litigation will stop, we can never ever move forward until it does.”

Tensions ran high as Owen Oyston met with Blackpool fans on Saturday

Tensions ran high as Owen Oyston met with Blackpool fans on Saturday

And while Oyston insisted he and his family were correct to sue, he promised there would be no fresh action taken by the club.

Oyston said: “We have agreed not to do any more suing and that’s a fact.

“We are to complete the existing cases, but we are trying to bring these actions to a close.

“Some of the things written by some of the people we have taken legal action against were disgusting.

“If we didn’t react to this in the first instance it would have allowed people to keep doing it over and over again. We had to do something.”

Chairman Karl Oyston’s running of the club was a constant talking point, with regular shouts of ‘sack him’ from the audience.

And while revealing Karl would relinquish some power at the club, he refused claims he should be removed.

“Karl has agreed to stand-down as the chief executive and we have appointed Alex Cowdy as the new CEO,” he said.

“We have a full compliment of backroom staff, selected by the manager. And even the grass is growing well this year.”

Another topic surrounded the future of club President Valeri Belokon who is currently engaged in a legal court battle with the Oystons about his investment in the club.

When asked about Belokon, Oyston blasted: “Valeri Belokon has no intention of running the club or buying it, all he wants to do is extract large sums of money from the club.”

BST held the meeting as the largest Blackpool supporter group, and spoke out against the five-man Fans Progress Group which is the club’s preferred association.

The chairman of the FPG, Iain Tarpey, has recently attended board meetings, but BST today called for that to be scrapped and opened up to all supporters.

“No, that won’t happen,” replied Oyston. “We want to work with all supporters, including the FPG.”

Oyston was warned from the floor his club has ‘no fans left and won’t until his family leave.’

Owen replied: “If you want to stay away from the club, that’s your prerogative. But we want to try and put things right.”

Despite constant attempts from organisers, the event descended into farce towards the end, as tensions rose against the Oyston family.

After more than an hour, Oyston left the room surrounded by security and friends, to abuse and chants demanding he sold Blackpool FC.

Oyston ended the meeting by saying: It has been a harrowing experience to sit here and listen to this passion.

“I’ll take your comments away with me.”