Pool chairman Karl Oyston was today facing an FA probe after becoming embroiled in an extraordinary text row with a disgruntled Blackpool fan – in which he reportedly calls him a “retard” and “intellectual cripple”.
Oyston was contacted by Blackpool fan Steve Smith via text, questioning his running of the club in a series of lengthy messages.
The text conversation, seen by The Gazette, starts reasonably conciliatory but descends into a lengthy expletive-ridden exchange between the South Shore father-of-three and the phone belonging to Oyston.
Mr Smith, 31, accuses Oyston of being clueless who is then accused of responding by saying: “Sorry your life is so (expletive), but that’s only your fault not mine.
“Enjoy the rest of your special needs day out.”
A message from Oyston’s phone, who was also on the receiving end of abuse, then asks: “Are you sure we’ve met? I would have remembered such a massive retard.”
Mr Smith responds to the messages by repeating the use of the word ‘retard’.
He then tells him to stop texting him but the conversation continues into a tit-for-tat row where Oyston, on at least eight occasions, tells Mr Smith to contact Blackpool Supporters Association (BSA) to which he replies ‘no’ each time.
The texts were sent between November 15 and 18 but only came to light yesterday.
Last night, Oyston, who was elected to the Football League board of directors in 2006, refused to comment on the story.
The FA confirmed it was aware of the row but no investigation has been launched at this stage.
Mr Smith, a former season ticket holder who claims he has been banned from Bloomfield Road since the text exchange, said: “I texted him to get answers about the running of the club.
“The club is mismanaged and the blame lies squarely with Karl Oyston and things need to change.
“I wanted to open up a line of communication with the fans that was fan-managed appropriately and not orchestrated by Karl. When he told me to enjoy my “special needs” day out I thought he was taking a cheap shot at my family. He can say what he likes about me but not my kids.”
When asked about the verbal abuse he directed at Oyston following the outburst, Mr Smith said: “I was bouncing his own words back on to him probably in the hope it would show him those words were wrong and deeply politically incorrect.”
Mr Smith, who is a member of the Tangerine Knights supporters group, added: “It is certainly not the behaviour of a football club chairman.
“It tarnishes the reputation of the football club again. We felt it was important to get it out there and not hide the texts.
“I would like Karl Oyston to be kicked out of the club and we don’t feel the Oyston family is fit to run a football club.”
Fiona Martin, chairman of Blackpool Supporters Association, said: “You simply cannot say things like that, whatever position you are in. You cannot say things about your fan base regardless of what you might think about them.
“The FA need to conduct an investigation and let it decide what the punishment should be.
“Karl has to apologise and recognise the strength of feeling within the fan base.”
Ismail Kaji and Leroy Binns, who have a learning disability and work for the charity Mencap, said: “A lot of people with a learning disability, like me, are passionate football supporters. I would feel ashamed however to support any football club that has a chairman who uses such disgusting language to people with a disability.
“This language is just as bad as using racist or homophobic words.
“There is no difference and it makes me sick.
“Someone with a high profile should act as a role model, not needlessly insult the people that look up to them.
“Regardless of his position though, what he said should not be tolerated.
“The chairman must apologise to the people who will have been deeply affected by the language aimed at them. This cannot be ignored.”
In April, The Gazette reported how Oyston had called in police following a series of alleged online threats aimed at his family.
It followed two protests at home games at the end of last season with tennis balls hurled onto the pitch and banners held aloft calling for the Oyston family to sell up.
There were also pitch invasions by fans with many supporters boycotting the ground this season after another turbulent period which saw public fall-outs with now-sacked manager Jose Riga and millionaire backer Valeri Belokon.
Karl Oyston’s weekly column in The Gazette has been scrapped with immediate effect.