Belokon exclusive: I’d buy Pool but Oyston won’t sell

Valeri Belokon
Valeri Belokon
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Valeri Belokon says he’s ready to buy Blackpool Football Club... but doesn’t think the Oyston family will ever sell.

Speaking exclusively to The Gazette from his Latvian headquarters, the club President revealed he has interest from potential partners ready to join him in buying the football club.

The Latvian businessman also demanded money loaned from BFC to a number of

Oyston-owned companies is instantly paid back for ‘the good of the club’.

Belokon, who bought 20 per cent of the Seasiders in 2006, recently expressed his dismay in the running of the club and said he was ready to step-in and buy out the Oyston family.

Despite insisting that remains the case, the 54-year-old revealed a deeper look into the accounts makes a deal difficult.

“As I have stated before, I am ready to buy the club, and there is interest from potential investors and partners,” he told The Gazette.

“I don’t think the Oystons would sell the club right now, because the last time we saw the balance sheet, it showed that most probably millions and millions in loans are given by the club to Segesta and other Oyston companies.

“Unfortunately I’ve come to the conclusion the Oyston family cannot sell Blackpool FC at this moment.

“The problem is the football club itself gave a lot of loans away to companies managed by the Oyston family.

“It would mean if new shareholders or owners came to the club the loans would have to be returned.

“Around two months ago I read in the media Karl Oyston saying the football club is not for sale.

“I thought he was saying this just formally because I don’t believe he loves Blackpool Football Club so much that he would never part himself from it.

“I am not saying I don’t want to buy Blackpool Football Club, just the Oystons are not willing to sell it.”

Club accounts show around £24m has been paid to a number of Oyston-owned companies since Blackpool’s promotion to the Premier League in 2010, including an £11m payment to owner Owen Oyston himself in 2011.

Oyston Snr, recently, hit back at claims the £90m windfall had left the club insisting £47.6m had been spent (between 2010-13) on players’ wages, bonuses and transfer fees.

He added £23.7m – often quoted as the cash siphoned off to other companies – was used to pay for the development of the stands, units within the stands and hotels.

Owen Oyston said in October: “Of the £23.7m loaned to Segesta by Blackpool FC, £22.8m has been used to benefit the football group and produce revenue to both BFC Limited and its parent company Segesta.”

While Belokon acknowledged the fact much of the money remains owed to the club in loans, he has called for the insistent repayment of them.

He said: “The monies which have been loaned away have to be returned to the club.

“The money has to go to the club, not me or the Oyston family, the money must be used to solve the current problems.

“I have invested my personal funds into the construction of the stadium and the hotel but that’s another issue which we will solve separately.

“Now the most important task is to get the money back into the club.

“My first task today is to see the return of money to the club – return money to the BFC accounts and remain in the league.

“But regarding the money that I gave for the building of the stadium and hotel – it’s issue to be solved between us and Segesta – company owned and managed by the Oystons.”

With Blackpool currently bottom of the Championship table many supporters have turned against the Oystons with recent protests attracting as many as a thousand fans unhappy with the running of the club.

Belokon says he’s more than aware of what’s happening at Blackpool, including current legal action being taken against a number of fans after alleged comments on social media.

This move is something Belokon questions, saying: “Football is a game for the fans. It is completely unacceptable to me to turn against the people who have been together with the club on a 24/7 basis and are prepared to support it during its worst times.

“I cannot understand or accept this action against the fans.

“The law must be respected, and no one should be falsely accused, but if we look at the essential aspects of what has been happening with the club in recent years, then we see the situation is not normal.

“Everything is downgrading, and fans are upset and angry about the management of the club and the current state of the club.

“In fact, fans are expressing their attitude toward the management of the club, I can understand the anger of those people who have been true supporters and patriots of the club since childhood and who are also raising their own children as fans.

“Their expressions may sometimes be emotional, but they are targeted at the style of management.

“25 years ago Owen Oyston loved Blackpool Football Club and maybe we can bring back these feelings to him, we need to protest and we need to bring new ideas to improve the situation we are in at the moment.”

Some Blackpool supporters see Belokon as their light at the end of the tunnel and have shown their admiration for him by waving Latvian flags at games.

While he hasn’t attended a Blackpool game for almost 18 months he says his passion for the club remains. “I had an offer a few years ago to invest in other football clubs, but I am a Blackpool fan,” Belokon added.

“Wherever I am, wherever the club is, I’ll always be a fan of Blackpool Football Club.

“Thank you to Blackpool fans for your support, it makes me feel very happy.

“We have great supporters and it shows just how good you all are that you have the strength to support the club and myself during these times.

“When we started to play in the Premier League, we set an example as a club with a small budget that could nonetheless get to the Premier League in such a short period of time.

“We showed that high goals can be reached with strategy and knowledge, not just money.

“The whole country was proud of us, and we gave hope to many others.

“The most magnificent moment for me was when we were in the Premier League and everyone in the country was behind Blackpool.

“Everyone was proud of Blackpool and I want that again.

“I’m certain that one day Blackpool will get back into the Premier League, I just hope it’s in my life time!”