How Not To Run A Football Club: Fascinating new book chronicles Blackpool's ruinous years of fans' boycott and court cases

Blackpool’s ruinous years of fan unrest, protests, boycotts and court cases under the despised Oyston regime have been chronicled in a fascinating new book.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Read More
'The best feeling in the world': Why Neil Critchley can't get enough of post-mat...

How Not to Run a Football Club reveals for the first time the inside details of one of the most controversial stories in British football.

Written by Seasider Nathan Fogg, the book is based on years of research and interviews with dozens of people involved in the midst of the scandal, including former chairman Karl Oyston and his son Sam.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 27-year-old charts Blackpool’s alarming fall from grace, plummeting from the top flight to League Two in just five years, exposing the full extent of the Oystons’ behaviour, the unprecedented boycott campaign and the libel cases that bankrupted supporters.

The book also includes new revelations, including Sam Oyston spending the night of Blackpool’s promotion to the Premier League in a police station and former manager Paul Ince inadvertently punching nightclub owner Basil Newby.

“I’ve been a Blackpool fan all of my life and I studied journalism, so when you have this story sitting on your lap how can you not write about it?,” Fogg told The Gazette.

“I actually started it in 2015 when I was a moderator on Back Henry Street when the message board was getting sued by the Oystons. I had done a couple of fanzines as well.

The book covers the story of Blackpool fans' unrest against the despised Oyston ownershipThe book covers the story of Blackpool fans' unrest against the despised Oyston ownership
The book covers the story of Blackpool fans' unrest against the despised Oyston ownership
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was about the time Jose Riga was manager and Matt Williams, the old secretary, had just left, and it seemed like one crazy thing was happening after each other every day. I was losing track of things, it was that hard to keep up.

“I started writing it, but I didn’t have the access and I was only 20 or 21 at the time, so it was way too big of a project for me.

“I did a lot of interviews with Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST) at the time, Tim Fielding and supporters that were being sued, but I basically scrapped the project.”

Fogg added: “A couple of years ago, I had a dream that I had written a book. The next day I told myself ‘I have to write it’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“My Dad had always told me I should have written it as well, so I picked it up again, sent it to the publisher and they got back to me saying they were interested.

“I wrote most of it in about six months.”

The writing process mainly consisted of 12-hour days for six weeks, which coincided with lockdown periods during the first year of the pandemic.

Fogg, a sports writer and lifelong Blackpool fan that joined the protests, lost his job when Covid first struck when all sport was shut down.

He ended up working in a local pub just to pay the bills, but he still found time to write and proofread the book on some of the more quiet evenings.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While his work focuses on Blackpool’s story, he believes the book should serve as a warning for all football supporters.

“When I first pitched it, the tagline was ‘how a community brought its football club back’ and it was very Blackpool focused,” Fogg said.

“That’s still the case, it’s got a lot in there about the protests, the Tangerine Knights, the fans being sued and so on.

“But over time, I didn’t want to hyper-focus too much on Blackpool. The title doesn’t have Blackpool in it, the book cover isn’t packed with tangerine, it’s a bit more subtle. That’s because it’s aimed at wider football fans.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“You hear a lot about keeping politics out of football, but I think people are starting to realise everything is politics in football when you’ve got the Saudi Arabian royal family owning a club, you’ve got what’s happening in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar…

“When I was protesting with Blackpool, I didn’t want Blackpool to sell to Valeri Belokon, I didn’t want the club to be sold out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“We’ve got lucky with Simon Sadler because he seems like the perfect owner. It’s all going well so far, so fingers crossed.

“But I’m big on ethics in football in terms of whose pockets we are putting money into, so I think football fans are slowly awakening to the fact it’s your club, it’s a community asset and you shouldn’t just be celebrating owners without holding them to account.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Given the Oystons’ litigious tendencies, other prospective authors have been put off writing a book that could risk legal action.

But Fogg said he was never fearful as the true story is out there for everybody to see.

“Speaking to Karl, I think he’s too smart now to realise it’s a no-win situation to sue,” he said.

“The reporting stands up for itself, it’s been legally checked and the lawyer who looked over it has worked in films, TV and books, so he’s very good.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He told the publishers it had been meticulously checked and I had spoken to Karl and Sam and everything was triple and quadruple-sourced, it’s all fact at the end of the day.

“Everything there is testament to the reporting and it stands on its own.”

Among the fascinating excerpts is a section on former director Valeri Belokon, who brought about the High Court challenge that forced Owen Oyston out of the club.

But the picture isn’t all rosey, with details of a questionably close relationship with Maxim Bakiyev, the son of a deposed Kyrgyz dictator.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Belokon is a hero to a lot of Blackpool fans but I think a lot of supporters are now beginning to have a conversation about what he actually meant for the club,” Fogg said.

“To me it’s a part of Blackpool’s story that doesn’t need whitewashing or hiding. It’s there to see, it’s there in fact.

“I laid out transactions that are black and white. I’ve seen the accounts of these companies. It’s like leading a horse to water, because I want Blackpool fans to care about it.

“It’s out there and it’s been published as fact, so people can do with it what they wish.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I can understand why fans were jumping to Belokon at the time because he was the only hope we had. A lot of people wouldn’t have known about Bakhiev either as it wasn’t widely reported.

“When it came to Blackpool, Belokon was the good guy and didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just whether you can countenance where that money came from.

“Now we’re all a bit removed and we’ve got this quote-unquote perfect owner in Simon Sadler, we can all have a frank conversation.

“But I purposefully built up to it towards the end to keep the focus on the Oystons and then switch to it.”

The book, released by Pitch Publishing, is on sale from Monday and is priced at £16.99.

You can order it online via this link.