BST column: Putting Blackpool FC's new chairwoman under scrutiny

In this morally ambiguous 21st century world, awash with DIY-propaganda, false narratives and multiple versions of the truth, how is an ordinary Joe '“ or Josephine '“ expected to be able to sift the fake from the real?

Friday, 7th September 2018, 10:00 am
Blackpool owner Owen Oyston at Walsall last Saturday

Some clever academic claimed the other day that such a distinction isn’t even possible anymore, that there is no such thing as ‘truth’, only ‘output’.

The best chance anyone – football fan, voter, potential investor in a business – has of ‘getting it right’ is to make as informed an assessment of the ‘output’ as possible, to evaluate whether things really stack up.

For example, when Owen Oyston says his dream and intention is to take Blackpool FC back to the Premier League, consider this: if he achieves that aim, he will then have to sell his stake in the club.

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As someone convicted of rape he is not allowed under the Premier League’s statutes to own a football club. He was instructed to relinquish that ownership in May 2010 and he failed to do so.

Blackpool FC was informed in 2011 that, in the event of Blackpool securing a return to the Premier League, Owen Oyston would have to sell his majority shareholding in the club.

That stark fact rather skewers Owen’s stated intention. Getting Blackpool back to the Premier League is not in Oyston’s best interest.

Now that his daughter is chairwoman of Blackpool FC, her ‘output’ deserves to be similarly scrutinised.

In her first big interview since taking over from Karl Oyston, she said a number of things that could best be described as disingenuous.

Concerning Jonathon Disley, a figure seen regularly with Owen of late, she said: “I can’t really comment… I don’t know much about him and I’ve not been in his company.”

A strange statement given that, apparently, Natalie, Disley and Owen visited Mr Belokon together in Riga just a couple of months ago.

Likewise her protestation of ‘I don’t know what’s gone on’ when the subject of the Oystons suing fans was aired.

Really? Natalie was at the meeting at the Hilton in 2016 when Owen agreed to meet with the fans and the issue of legal action against individual supporters was hotly debated.

Natalie says she wants to meet with the fans.

BST, being an open and democratic organisation, will put it to the membership at the AGM on Saturday, September 29 to see if there is any appetite for such a meeting in the current circumstances.

Ms Christopher appears to be trying to gloss over an irreparable rift by saying: “I apologise for any mistakes we’ve made as a football club in the past,” and wanting to be given a fresh start.

Hang on a minute. It’s not the football club that has made the mistakes, it’s the owners of the club that have been – and continue to be – the problem.

If she really meant what she said when she told listeners to Radio Lancashire that she ‘would like the football club to be the hub of the community again’, then her course of action should be obvious.

She ought to persuade her father to sell up and to do a deal for the club and the stadium complex at a fair market value, not the over-inflated price tag he uses as an excuse to deter interested buyers.

Of course, it is entirely possible that she has already tried to persuade him and failed.

Owen has put his own interests above those of the club and the community.

For his daughter to say: “He’s not going to see it come to any harm if he can help it,” given what has gone on in the last 10 years – and more – just beggars belief!

It should be quite clear to everyone, based on the evidence of our eyes and the testimonies in court in recent months, that the conduct of our current owners has been the cause of our club’s demise.

This and the breakdown of the relationship between owners and fans is a direct result of the illegitimate stripping of assets, the broken promises regarding investment and training facilities, the suing of supporters, the arrogance and selfishness of the Oyston family.

A fresh start with the Oystons at the helm is really a non-starter.

This is a matter of principle and not dependent on the performance of the team on the pitch.

It is also a matter of trust.

There is none any longer between the owners and the majority of fans, for all the reasons stated many times over.

If the EFL really had a duty of care to the football club, rather than to the owners of the football club, then they ought to have stepped in and forced a resolution that the Premier League failed to see over the line in 2010.

How different the last decade might have been if that had happened.

Once the Oystons have gone, only then will the club become the hub of this community again – as it deserves to be – and we ordinary Joes and Josephines can reconnect with the team and the club we love. It really is as simple as that.