The FA has made public the full reasoning behind the Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston’s six-week ban from football - and published a transcript of toxic text messages between him and supporter Stephen Smith.
The ‘Pool chairman will be barred from all football activity from July 8.
He has also been fined £40,000 and told he must attend a mandatory education course by mid-October following an exchange of text messages with Blackpool fan Smith, whom the ‘Pool chairman referred to as a ‘retard’ and told to enjoy his ‘special needs day out’.
The FA has released the report of the independent regulatory commission that ruled on Oyston’s case - it reveals how Oyston expressed concerns over an ‘escalating campaign of protest’ which had included ‘theft, vandalism and criminal damage.’
The ‘Pool chairman also claimed to have been the subject of abuse ever since he took over the club and had only responded to repeated texts from Mr Smith after comments were made about his own family.
However, in considering the remarks which led to the investigation, the commission was damning.
They noted the exchange did not end with the reported abuse - with further offensive messages sent by Oyston over a number of days.
The commission said Oyston had ‘goaded’ Smith concluding he was ‘deriving enjoyment’ from the message exchange.
It was also made clear in the document that both parties had ‘ample opportunity... to pause and consider.”
The report, which called into question the motives of Smith in opening the exchange with Oyston, made it clear the Blackpool chairman had made a number of wrong decisions which had ultimately led to a serious breach of FA rules.
It said: “He was undoubtedly provoked, but it was his choice to respond and to say what he did. He had a number of alternative options which he failed to take and which, understandably, he now regrets.”
Some Blackpool fans have expressed disbelief at the scale of the punishment and the timing of Oyston’s ban.
However, the report reveals efforts were made to avoid causing ‘major logistical problems’ for Blackpool during the transfer window while ensuring the dates did not ‘pander to his convenience’.
In one part of the FA’s findings, the official report puts some of the onus on Stephen Smith for what transpired.
The FA report says: “Exchanges on social media that post-date the text exchange suggest that Mr. Smith initiated it with a view to entrapping Mr. Oyston.
“It is conceivable that the former was prepared to take the credit for doing so even if that had not been his intention.
“Ultimately, though, whether Mr. Smith’s motives were pure or not played no part in Mr. Oyston’s decision to allow himself to become involved.
“He was undoubtedly provoked, but it was his choice to respond and to say what he did. He had a number of alternative options which he failed to take and which, understandably, he now regrets.”
Asked by The Gazette on the matter of ‘entrapment’ Mr Smith said: “That is the personal opinion of the FA and their view.
“I have read the FA’s report and I have had a conversation with them to say that I wasn’t happy with the length of the punishment (imposed on Oyston) and there is no more to say about the matter that has not been said by me already.”
In the FA findings, it was also revealed that Oyston’s ban had been delayed until next month to allow him to devolve power to someone else, allowing the club to run during the transfer window in his absence.
Oyston’s ban, including a stadium exclusion two hours before and after home matches, is from July 8 to August 18.