Members of Blackpool’s Supporters Association were invited to Bloomfield Road to question Karl Oyston on all things Blackpool Football Club.
And The Gazette were invited down to report the Pool chairman’s answers.
How are we getting on with the training ground?
We have a set of plans for the proposed training ground, which are now with Fylde council for consideration, but not submitted.
We are going through the various pre-application processes.
We met with English heritage on Thursday in Lytham to discuss the plans and their view of them.
While we have current plans, they are unlikely to be the final application.
Why would you meet with English heritage?
The land on which the application sits is Grade One listed.
Is this land owned by Lytham Hall Trust?
No, it’s all owned by me.
So the land isn’t an issue?
Will you be putting a timescale on this?
No and nor will I ever.
You said in the past players aren’t interested in good training grounds when they sign for clubs, do you still hold that view?
I think I do even more so after my talks with the manager.
It’s not a constant source of issue for him.
Of the managers I’ve worked with, some have disliked it, some have liked it.
Do you believe there is enough strength in the financial fair play rules to make other chairman take a similar stance to you?
Out of the 24 clubs in the Championship, six won’t hit the FFP target.
They face transfer a transfer embargo if they aren’t promoted to the Premier League.
The teams that are promoted will be fined and the money will be distributed to charity.
I think those six either have no intention of complying, or can’t because of previous activity.
The general strength of feeling among Championship clubs is that we need to give the rules more teeth, with higher punishments to the teams that break them.
That will take 18 clubs to vote.
What is the punishment?
I think it’s pound-for-pound. So if someone goes over by £20m, they will face a £20m fine.
When are you changing the seats at Bloomfield Road?
We did a deal with a seating company to put seats in the whole of the North and the West to match the South and the East.
The company came and ripped out a block, then the seats arrived and they weren’t the right colour.
We told them not to take any more seats out and I think the whole North and West is due to be changed before Christmas.
What’s the situation with the East Stand, it’s rented isn’t it?
No, it’s all ours.
I know you can’t stop supporters leaving early, but can the stewards not stop people congregating at the exits?
I don’t think we can.
It irritates me, and disabled people will be effected more than anyone.
It’s a bad thing and I don’t know what people are rushing home for.
I don’t understand it.
I’ll raise the issue with our ground safety officer and have his view.
Other grounds close the roads around the ground after the game, why don’t we?
It’s a council and police thing, it’s not something we have control over.
We had road closures during the year in the Premier League but it’s something which isn’t done now.
Does the position still stand that the East won’t be changed?
The position hasn’t changed.
The only thing I look at when watching the games is the North East corner.
If I can get a tenant for it, I’ll build that corner up.
That corner irritates me.
Can’t we have replays of goals on the big screen?
Replays may happen when the ground is hardwired for cameras, which we are planning to do shortly.
When the manager gets into hot water, does he pay the costs?
Yes. He pays his fine and the LMA paid the cost of the barrister.
Did you know the hearing would be published?
Yes we did. They told us at the hearing it would be published.
We were aware of the contents of the report.
Is this the first time the FA have published this?
No, they publish them all the time.
Has Paul learnt from his mistakes with the ban?
It’s not an attitude thing, it was a one-off set of circumstances.
The simple fact of the matter is he did the crime so there was no point appealing.
He accepted the punishment and we all move on.
There was no excuse for what happened, we draw a line under it and move on now.
We’ve told Paul that the best time to repair the damage is to move forward.
Overtime he will repair the damage caused.
Did Paul feel aggrieved about what happened after the game at Preston?
They’ve charged another nine supporters, I think.
Preston have a full team on just that one incident, quite rightly.
I don’t think Paul has any ongoing issues.
He was asked if he wanted to follow up the incident where he and Thomas were confronted and he said no.
The people who are found guilty will receive banning orders.
Where is Valery Belokon?
Valery invested very heavily into Kyrgyzstan into goldmines and banking.
The regime changed and they made various allegations against him.
Valery is fighting to clear his name and get his substantial assets back, so he’s sidetracked.
He’s still on our board and has a representative who comes to board meetings.
He’s very inactives as far as we are concerned at the moment.
Why was Paul Ince unhappy with pre-season signings?
No-one was particularly happy, all football managers want to have their squads in place.
Paul is meticulous in the way he does things, probably more so than any manager we’ve had.
At the end of it all, particularly in the climate of financial fair play, it’s never easy to get players to accept pay cuts.
It was just one of those summers.
I think you’ll all agree it’s not effected us too much.
Prior to the season, if you’d have said we would have the start we’ve had we would all have been doing cartwheels.
We’ve done very well out of it, by holding our ground.
Were there players you wanted to sign which you didn’t?
Yes, loads. There are always players we want who we won’t get.
We are always looking to get better players to improve it, but we can’t always match their demands.
We will never have a wanted list of ten players and manage to sign them all.
I wouldn’t think even the top Champions League clubs can do that.
We have a lot of loans in, are we looking to make them permanent?
Not as a hard rule, no.
We’ve been promoted twice due to good use of the loan system.
Some of the loan players we’d never be able to sign due to the wages.
We have some players on loan who have huge contracts at their parent clubs.
Do you think players are becoming more accepting of the climate?
I definitely think they are.
We’ve never had as many people asking for two or three year contracts as we have now.
In the past players would take one year contracts as they were confident they’d get more the year after.
Now they can see the writing on the wall and can see there’s a downturn in wages ahead.
I think players are aware of this, whether they accept it is another matter.
Do agents get it?
Some agents do and will grab any opportunity to get their client a job, they are the better ones.
The ones who are cavalier with their clients futures don’t care.
They don’t care if the player gets a job and on what wages, all they care about is what they get.
That’s the thing we don’t understand, these agents get away with not representing their client’s best interest.
They wouldn’t get away with it in any other form of professional life, they’d be struck off if they were solicitors or accountants.
What do other chairman make of agents?
I’m not blowing our own trumpet here, but they all wish they could be like us.
They either don’t have the strength of character or control to be able to be like us.
I’m sure no-one likes dishing three and a half million quid out to agents every year, they can’t like it surely?
They can’t possibly enjoy that experience of sending money out of football never to return.
We had a big chunk of players out of contract last season, will that happen again?
We can recruit for a third of what we are paying at the moment.
We have had the biggest period of instability in my time in the last 12 months, yet we’ve had the best performance.
So you don’t want stability?
Of course I don’t want instability, but if people won’t accept sensible offers then we will move on.
Are you starting to make offers to players who are out of contract at the end of the season?
No, the pressure is on players now, not us.
The balance of power has spun back to us.
There’s more players around now than clubs which want them.
Is Thomas Ince out of contract?
Yes but he’s too young to go for free anyway.
Is the manager on a standard rolling contract?
Are you concerned he may leave?
You should never be concerned by anything outside of your control, so no.
We aren’t the sort who react to links to other clubs and we would never offer a manager a ten year deal to keep him.
You can’t keep teams at bay anyway.
Managers, like players, have contracts which are meaningless if they get a better offer.
We don’t lose any sleep over it.
Do you think you fell on your feet when appointing Paul Ince?
Without blowing our own trumpet, I think we do well with managers as we let managers manage.
We support them in a way some other clubs don’t.
So I think it’s a good club for a manager to prosper.
Obviously we have certain constraints, we aren’t one to go throwing money around, but we are the most supportive with managers.
We give them time and give them time to build what they want to build.
How big an influence is Alex Rae having?
I think he’s very, very hard working.
He drove from here to Watford to Scotland to watch games recently.
We are certainly preparing for games much better now.
Paul’s got as big a staff as we’ve ever had before, but definitely more hard working.
I think Alex is a big part of that.
Do you ever get the urge to interfere in the manager’s decisions?
Never once in 15 years have I, or expressed a football opinion.
I always have a measured support and support the manager.
I just try to keep the back-stabbers away, there are plenty of them in football.
Why won’t you speak to SISA?
When we first took over here there were some problems which threatened the clubs existence.
One of them was that we had no direct link between the club and a supporters’ group.
I met with BISA at the time and told them we were salvageable, but not without a lot of work between supporters and the club.
We agreed that they would drop the ‘i’, which was a declaration that we were going to work together.
At the same time they dropped the independent tag, we agreed they would be our exclusive supporters group.
We’ve done that ever since, and it’s worked spectacularly well.
I see absolutely no other reason to involve any other group.
If people want to set up other groups, then that’s up to them.
But they do so in the knowledge that we won’t have anything to do with them, now or in the future.
So if they wish to set up groups, they can’t bemoan us not having contact with them.
That will be the case as long as I’m chairman.
Communication is key and Matt’s diary has been excellent, will be see a chairman’s one?
No-one would be interested in my diary.
Matt’s diary is a very big plus.
Yes it’s a good thing, communication is always a good thing.
That was a good idea from The Gazette, so well done to them.
What’s your five year plan?
I’ve never had one.
I’ve not had one from the minute I arrived. I always know roughly where I want to go and how I intend to get there.
There’s no really a lot left to do, from what I set out to do when I took over.
Certainly the training ground is one.
Pretty much I’m where I wanted us to be, albeit ten years later.
Do you want to see Blackpool back in the Premier League?
Why wouldn’t I?
I know this never washes, but if any of us would have thought 15 years ago we’d be sat where we are in the Championship, in a new ground we would have been happy.
The fact we have been to the Premier League in the meantime probably changes our view of where we should be.
Expectations are different, which is good.
What more we can do to achieve the expectations I’m not sure, but I think we are on course.
We’ve maintained our quirkiness which I think is our main strength.
But we’ve tidied up a lot of the things which need not be shabby in our operation.
I’m not sure there’s much else we can do.
It’s down to injuries, luck, suspensions and things.
But I think we’ve made a solid start.
We probably aren’t as good as Cardiff were last season, but they were solid and organised and they got promotion.
Do you see the club being handed down to your sons?
I have daughters as well.
My daughter actually runs the academy, although she got married so isn’t an Oyston anymore!
We’ve have a few of the next generation which works for the company.
Whether any of them are sane enough to want to do this job I don’t know.
I’m not that old yet, we’ll see.
As a fan it’s nice to see we are doing well against all the critics. It’s pleasing isn’t it?
I think it’s dangerous to listen to people, good or bad.
You shouldn’t let people build you up, or knock you down.
It was important not to lose the fan base, wasn’t it?
I think it was vitally important we kept building and bring youngsters on.
I don’t want to upset anyone but our average age of season tickets was very high.
But ten years ago we started offering free season tickets for kids and we are reaping the rewards now.
I speak to Glenn Bowley three or four times a week and he came up with the idea of cheap season tickets last season.
So you have BSA to thank for that.
Five or six years ago we weren’t anywhere near some of our Lancashire rivals.
If you look at the average attendances now, we are right up there.
There have been talks about lowering costs for away fans, is there anything in the pipeline for the Football League?
There’s nothing I’m aware of in the pipeline.
We did a deal with Barnsley last season where we both charged fans £12.50 last season.
I’ve only been on the Football League board for a couple of months, but there’s nothing I’m aware of in the pipeline.
There has been a supporters’ trust talked about, what’s your view?
We looked at it with BSA and spoke to Supporters’ Direct.
They said there’s no pressing structural problems at this club which need addressing and we’d be wasting our time and money forming a trust.
So we decided not to bother.
I would need to have a major problem, spend all our money and plunge us down the divisions before a Trust would become relevant.
So there’s no point.
It’s more of a calamity recovery thing, not for clubs which are in reasonable shape.
There’s things we can better spend our time doing.
Who is the supporters’ liaison offer?
We haven’t got one, and we aren’t going to have one.
We are old fashioned and if we have any problems we take the complaints directly and reply.
That’s how we do things here.
I distribute issues and problems to my staff who deal with them.
I think it’s a stupid idea and it won’t be happening here.
Do you think you get a tough ride out of BSA?
I tend to think you never get the best out of people by abusing them.
You are far better working together to achieve a good outcome than going to war.
When we had no manager this time last year, I spoke to Glenn Bowley more than I spoke to my wife.
It was constant dialogue between me and BSA.
So I don’t get an easy ride, but anything we discuss is always solution based rather than being negative.
You can challenge someone without having any conflict.
There’s no-one more keen to sort out problems at the club than us.
So there’s no easy rides.
Would you ever bring Ian Holloway back?
I don’t think you should ever go back.
People said last time we should have had Simon Grayson back, but I don’t think we should have. You always run the risk of someone who’s done well destroying their previous good deeds.
I would be very wary of ever going back.
Has the player’s budget been halved this season?
We’ll make the most of what we have. We’ll always try and do our job well.
It’s not about how much you spend, it’s how you spend it.
Is there money left in Paul’s budget?
There’s always room to bring players in.
We have more money than we know what to do with, so if we find the right player we will try to bring him in.
Do you like football?
I don’t recall saying I didn’t like football, but I probably did.
I’d not been involved in the game when I took over.
I don’t know if I love football now or just hate losing, probably a bit of both.