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Oyston breaks silence over stand

KARL Oyston has admitted "we need to progress as a club" – but there is no sign of a south stand being built anytime soon.

The chairman, who has broken months of silence to provide some much-needed information to supporters, is adopting a firm stance about the stand.

Despite criticism about a lack of progress on a stand that has been in the pipeline for more than two years, Oyston says he has good reason not to start work yet.

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The chairman says he won't build it because it will mean a weaker team on the pitch.

In other words, he chose to give manager Simon Grayson money to buy new players instead of using the cash to build a south stand.

Oyston said: "The south will be built as and when it is right for the football business.

"I didn't think – and the manager supported my decision – that we should take 400,000 from the playing budget to pay for a stand that arguably we don't need. I know we need to progress as a club and it is top of our agenda, believe me, but it wasn't right to do it now.

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"We've always tried to stick to the original principles to develop the stadium from a property perspective, then it didn't drain the football wages and the football resources.

"It is quite straightforward – if we built the south stand it would mean that we'd have four less players in the squad, and to consolidate in any division it would be tough.

"I'd prefer to have those extra players and so would the manager. We are probably operating on one of the smaller wage and transfer budgets in our division and I really don't want to make our position any more difficult.

"It will be built as soon as it can gain property backing, and by that I mean renting the space to make payments for the stand."

Oyston was speaking alongside the chairmen of Preston and Burnley on a BBC radio programme about football issues.

Not surprisingly, the south stand was the main topic when it came to the Seasiders chief.

The Gazette has requested interviews with Oyston at various stages of the season but the Pool chairman has declined, saying he doesn't have anything to say.

Slowly

In fairness to Oyston – there really is little to report. His method of slowly working toward a position where he can start work on a south stand has not altered for 18 months.

He says one of the reasons for the lack of headway is the property climate.

"Blackpool isn't a property hotspot at the moment," he said. "It is still reeling from the decision not to give the town the casino. That would have added fire to the property market.

"There is not a day goes by when we don't have a meeting or some enquiry to try and get the south stand built but we can't improve the property market.

"National rental values are probably twice what they are in Blackpool, so it makes it doubly hard to attract a tenant and then fund the stand."

Asked about the stick he has taken, Oyston was reminded of the dark days in the 1990s when his mother was chairman and fans demonstrated regularly.

"At least they are not marching around with coffins or putting banners on the M55 these days, so we've come a long way!" he said.

The chairman put paid to the long-running rumours that the club had purchased the No 1 club on at the south-east corner of the stadium, though he did admit discussions took place.

"We had a look at it because we could have expanded the scheme and created more car parking, which is always at a premium, and made it more attractive to someone to pre-let with us.

"We had a chat with the 1,000-strong committee that run that club and I think it's fair to say we can categorically kill that one off."

 
 
 

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