Oyston: I can't affect low crowds

Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston
Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston
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Karl Oyston says there’s no point worrying about this season's low crowds at Bloomfield Road because it’s something he can’t affect.

The Blackpool chairman made the comments in a recorded interview which was aired on BBC Radio Lancashire this morning while Graham Liver’s breakfast show was broadcasted live from the South Shore constituency.

Attendances at Bloomfield Road have dropped by more than 50% from last season as the fans’ boycott continues to bite.

When asked about the low crowds, Oyston said: “There’s no point worrying about things you can’t affect.

“I felt the support (in the play-off semi-final first leg) was fantastic and more vocal than it has been at times. They really got behind the team and that gave them a boost.

“I feel we’ve got a really good core support who want to support the team and the manager and that’s what we’ve got to try and build on.

“I think that over the season we’ve had positive support. Maybe the numbers are disappointing and there needs to be a lot of hard work done on both sides to repair what can be repaired and move on from what can’t be repaired.

“But I think the support we’ve had has been very, very good and the manager and the players do appreciate it.”

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When asked if the club has received any fresh takeover bids, Oyston replied: “There’s a lot of talk about that and I made a conscious decision several years ago that I won’t address rumours.

“But there’s been no offers despite one or two saying there have been.

“We’ve said if there is an offer, give us some evidence of it but no one has come forward. We also said if there are offers we’ll publicise it and that remains the case.

“We’ll talk to anyone but you can’t talk in “ifs”. I don’t think there’s a queue forming at our door, we’ve still got problems at the club and we’ve got to address those problems and try and move on.

“I’m not sure we’ll be top of the list for people who want to buy a football club.”

Responding to Oyston’s interview, former Blackpool player Ben Burgess said: “It’s one side of the story.

“The fans feel as though the only way they can be heard is to make these protests.

“It was interesting Karl saying there’s no use worrying about the attendances because it’s something he can’t affect. Well, he can affect it. That’s the whole point, the fans are staying away because of the ownership.

“It needs to be sorted out because it is ridiculous.

“Gary Bowyer has done a fantastic job this season in spite of everything else. But it’s such a hard job.

“For the fans it’s absolutely heartbreaking. I speak to fans all the time who don’t go anymore but they watch on TV and they want their team to do well, but does that mean they’re supporting the owners? It’s such a hard situation for them to be in.

“It just shows the deep feeling there is and how much the fans want to be heard and how much they want change. They’re not doing it for a wishy-washy feeling.

“Blackpool will lose a generation of fans. When I first started teaching five years ago we had maybe 10 season ticket holders, now there’s not one. No one’s wearing a Blackpool kit either.

“You can’t blame the kids because there’s not a great atmosphere there right now.

“The fans are just doing what they think is best. The problem is I can’t see a situation is where it’s solved and I think the fans realise that too.”

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Christine Seddon, deputy chair of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, said: “It’s heartbreaking, I don’t know how to describe how difficult it is to do what we’re doing.

“But we’re doing it on principle, not because we’re a bunch of nutters or fickle fans or anything like that. It’s because we want a proper future for our club.

“We feel as though we’ve been driven to this and don’t have any other option. We’ve pleaded with them to do the right thing and they haven’t done so.

“A football club without its fans is nothing, it can’t go on. That’s why we’ve had to make this stand.”