BST column: Uncertainty can’t help at this stage of Blackpool’s season

Disappointed Blackpool players at the end of the match at Oldham on Monday
Disappointed Blackpool players at the end of the match at Oldham on Monday

More tales from behind the scenes at our far-from-normal football club give increasing cause for concern this week.

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There is a growing sense that things are falling apart.

Most fans will have hoped that at the very least the team might have secured League One safety by Easter, so that whatever transpires off the pitch between now and August, we could start the monumental task of rebuilding in the third tier and not the fourth. Two defeats in the last seven days have suddenly raised doubts even on that score.

It is still the case that Blackpool FC’s League One survival is in its own hands, but it is vital that the Seasiders pick up points from their next two home fixtures despite the awful Bloomfield Road surface.

While the performance of the team on the pitch will hopefully be sufficient to stave off the disaster of relegation, the efforts of our current owner to cling on to the club could be catastrophic.

Owen Oyston has had plenty of opportunity to comply with the court ruling and arrive at a realistic settlement with Valeri Belokon but he has dragged his feet, missed payment deadlines, played mind games instead of making a realistic effort to negotiate with Latvia and has even held out the threat of the club going into administration despite there being sufficient funds to run it.

Just to put that scaremongering into context, it is the understanding of the Trust that if the Oystons try to push the club down that route, the first thing an administrator would look at is the monies owing to Blackpool FC, meaning the £30m in loans made by the club to Segesta (now BFC Properties) and demand their immediate repayment, something of a Catch-22 for the Oystons.

It was reported in The Gazette this week that Owen plans to repay the entire amount owing to Mr Belokon today. To do so, he will have to take out the rumoured additional £27m loan at an eye-watering rate of interest – all of this to stay in control of a club that, by rights, the EFL ought to rule him ineligible to be owner of, as indeed the Premier League did rule in 2010.

When BST raised the issue of someone on the register of sex offenders owning an English League club – our interpretation of the EFL’s rules being that Oyston should be disqualified – the EFL promised us a response in the week of April 16.

If the Oystons remain in control of the club, then it will continue to be the sorry loss-making concern it has been for the last two seasons. The fans simply will not come back and the loan repayments will hang round the owners’ necks like a millstone.

Surely not even the most loyal of Seasiders fans can believe any longer that Owen is doing any of this out of love for the club.

One can only hope the EFL recognises the same and acts decisively in defence of the club and not its owner.

While it mulls that one over, the EFL is also in receipt of all the information it asked Mr Belokon for regarding the charges brought against him by the Kyrgyz court.

It is possible the EFL will then make a further ruling in regard to Belokon’s suitability to be owner or director of an English league club. A positive outcome would be the suspension or rescinding of his disqualification.

So much uncertainty so close to the end of a football season is very bad news for the staff and players at the club.

Gary Bowyer has to make decisions about players he may want to keep who will be out of contract, and players he would like to recruit without knowing for certain which League Blackpool will be in next year.

He will want to schedule pre-season training and pre-season friendlies without knowing what sort of budget he will have to work with.

All of this does not bode well. None of us wants to see a repetition of the lead up to the 2014/15 season, when such cynical promises were made under the banner of the ‘Riga Revolution’ just in order to sell two-year season tickets… when in reality there was no pre-season to talk of and the Seasiders only had eight full-time players under contract in the week the season kicked off.

Relegation from the Championship looked inevitable from the start. Blackpool finished bottom of the table with a record low number of points and the season culminated in the pitch invasion on the final day.

None of us wants to see a repeat of any of the failings of the last few years – the lack of vision, lack of investment, cynical short-termism.

It has been a depressing and toxic period in our history, one which we hope we are close to the end of.

That day will come when the Oystons finally relinquish their insidious hold on anything connected to Blackpool FC.

It really is in the interests of all of us not to give them even one single incentive to stay.