“WHERE’S the money, Oyston?”
If I had a tenner for every time I’ve heard a Blackpool fan utter that, I’d have quit The Gazette years ago and bought a mansion in the Cotswolds.
There has always been muttering and grumbling about the way the chairman has run the club.
In January, I celebrate (though I’m not sure ‘celebrate’ is the right word) ten years of being in this job.
On every day – all 3,652 of them – someone, somewhere has questioned Karl Oyston.
It is a particularly hot topic at the moment and, on the face of it, it is easy to see why.
Blackpool Football Club has never been as well off as it is now.
The club’s bank manager must be rubbing his hands: £40m from the Premier League adventure, £14m worth of parachute payments (with three more instalments to follow until 2014), and £8m from the sale of Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell.
With all that cash flowing, it is only fair for supporters to ask why the club doesn’t appear to be spending it.
Ian Holloway has had his two penn’orth on today’s back page but has resisted making any real criticism about the way Oyston runs things. Like he always has, he says he supports the chairman wholeheartedly, though he does admit it can be frustrating trying to get deals done when the club is run as carefully as it is.
Exactly what Oyston’s response to the flak will be is hard to say. He was away from his desk at the end of last week and not available for interview, though we’re told the Seasiders chief will make himself available to answer my questions, and those of my media colleagues, in the next week or two.
The first question will be the one which starts this article.
What I expect the chairman to do is politely point out that he has, contrary to popular belief, spent more heavily than usual this summer.
True, only £1m has gone on transfer fees (£750,000 for Barry Ferguson, £250,000 on Daniel Bogdanovic) but Pool have never before paid the wages they do at the moment.
Ferguson is the highest-paid player in the club’s history and Kevin Phillips isn’t far behind.
Stephen Crainey and Matt Gilks negotiated new deals on much improved salaries as did Ian Evatt and Alex Baptiste. The wage bill, compared to a couple of seasons ago, is enormous.
That said, there is no doubt there’s plenty of money left in the coffers.
But, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, so what?
If a business succeeds, it is the people in charge who will benefit most ... and rightly so.
The Oyston family have bankrolled Blackpool for the last 24 years. Owen Oyston has never put a figure on how much he has put in, but anyone who recalls the free-spending days of the mid-90s will know it is a seriously hefty amount.
So why shouldn’t the owners, when they hit the jackpot two decades down the line, take some money for themselves? It isn’t wrong, it isn’t illegal. They don’t have to plough every penny back into the football club. That will be their argument and it is fair enough.
It won’t stop many supporters from complaining, though. Fans want to watch a good team and they want to see their club showing ambition and pushing on.
At the moment, they see a Blackpool side which has lost its best three players and hasn’t, as yet, adequately replaced them.
They wanted at least one big arrival on deadline day, something to get the juices going.
With the greatest respect to 32-year-old Bogdanovic and West Brom teenager James Hurst, they weren’t exactly marquee signings.
And so the griping will go on. This is football. It happens at every club, no matter what division.
What it all boils down to in the end is results.
If the Seasiders are up there challenging this season, those who dislike Oyston will barely be heard. If Pool struggle, the chairman will need a tin hat ... and perhaps a riot shield to boot.
But wherever you stand on the issue, there is one simple truth: nothing will change. Karl Oyston runs the club the way he wants, the way he always has.
And no amount of stick from supporters will alter that.