Oyston’s no-show for Cup clash

Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston
Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston
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Karl Oyston isn’t the type of person to get carried away.

But even by his standards, his reaction to the historic meeting between Blackpool – the club he became chairman of 12 years ago – and neighbours Fleetwood is muted to say the least.

Maybe that’s to be expected. After all in every Cup game it is the so-called smaller club, the underdog, which has most to get excited about.

For Fleetwood there is the chance of a major upset and an opportunity to get a result which will still be talked about 50 years down the line.

For Pool, there is the chance for only humiliation and ignominy. They have everything to lose. They are expected to win. Anything less and there will be red faces all round.

All of which perhaps explains Oyston’s reluctance to get as worked up about the game as his Town counterpart Andy Pilley, who described tomorrow’s game as “the biggest possible for us – bigger than Manchester United or City”.

Suffice to say, Oyston doesn’t feel quite the same. “I am sure it is a big thing to a lot of people but it is one of those situations that gets blown out of all proportion,” said the chairman, who won’t even be at the match – he’s keeping a long-standing engagement to go shooting instead.

“It is an FA Cup draw and a fantastic one – but at the end of it all, that’s what it is.

“I am probably more of a realist than one or two and I can’t quite see what the level of excitement is being generated for.

“I am sure it will be a good match, between two good teams with two good managers,

“But it is unlikely that either club will win the FA Cup.

“In a few months it will all be forgotten about, but what won’t be is whether Blackpool get back to the Premier League or whether Fleetwood make it into the Football League. They are the long-term aims for the whole area.

“I’m sure Fleetwood’s focus is the same as ours – the league. So while this game is maybe nice for the supporters, it’s not something that I will let in any way sidetrack us from our main purpose.”

Hardly tubthumping stuff, but then Oyston has never been one for all that.

He has been happy playing the pantomime villain at Bloomfield Road for more than a decade now. It winds some fans up rotten, others don’t mind.

But whatever his fiercest critics throw at him, the chairman can always point to his cv – a new stadium and promotion up the divisions, including a season in the Premier League.

He says he has made progress. Andy Pilley most definitely has at Fleetwood.

And that’s where Oyston does become more animated, when extolling the virtues of the man behind Town’s rise to the brink of the Football League

“I think Andy has done really well,” said Oyston. “He has pumped a lot of his own money and resources into a club and taken it through several stages. It is a good example of what can be achieved with that level of commitment.

“I hope the public of Fleetwood support him because he has really put his money where his mouth is and built some excellent premises.

“He has a grand vision, and the whole town now needs to get behind him and help fund that dream. “If they do make it to the Football League, it is an expensive place to be and to stay, so it is a very long-term commitment that should be shared jointly between the supporters and the chairman.”

So does Oyston welcome Fleetwood’s emergence as a bit of a footballing force or worry about it? “I don’t worry about any other club. I only worry about what I can affect and that is this club,” he added.

“Football clubs will always rise and fall, and it’s nice to see people on that journey having a good time on that journey and being successful ... because many aren’t.

“Many pump vast wealth into football clubs and ultimately fail, so Andy Pilley has obviously done a very good job in making sure that the money he’s spent has been well used.”

Tomorrow will be a fascinating clash between a team with Premier League experience, now flying high in the Championship, and a side overflowing with confidence and intent on making history.

Oyston knows a defeat for the Seasiders will be headline news but, as you’d expect, he won’t be losing any sleep should the worst happen.

“Massive headlines are soon forgotten about, and if we lose, we lose,” he said. “It will be a case of well done to Fleetwood.

“It is a banana skin. These ties always are for clubs like us but our focus will continue to lie elsewhere.

The Premier League is the big prize that will give massive, massive long-term benefit to this area, which needs it.

“That won’t come from a one-off FA Cup tie, so on Saturday what will be, will be.”