Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST) has written to EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey urging them to BAN Owen Oyston before it’s too late.
Concern appears to be growing among Blackpool fans that Oyston could get a loan to pay off his £25m debt to Valeri Belokon, which would subsequently remove the receiver and allow him to retain control of the football club.
BST has described this scenario as “unthinkable” and has claimed it might prevent Blackpool fans from purchasing season tickets until they are certain the 85-year-old can never return.
The Trust has long argued the EFL has misread its own rules regarding its Owners’ and Directors’ Test (ODT) and not applied its regulations correctly.
This relates to Oyston being permitted to continue as Blackpool owner for a number of years despite being convicted for rape in 1996.
BST has since sought the legal expertise of QC Alan Maclean, of Blackstone Chambers, who concurred that Oyston should be disqualified from holding a position as a director of a club due to his previous conviction and the fact he is a registered offender.
The EFL’s argument that Oyston has not been found to fail to ODT is because it can not be applied retrospectively is a “wrong-headed analysis” of the regulations, according to the QC.
He goes on to describe Shaun Harvey’s explanation at the meeting with Blackpool fans in March 2018 as “incoherent”.
“As Mr Harvey accepted at that meeting, “there is an annual re-certification”,” the QC writes.
“He accepted also that the test was an ‘ongoing test’. He suggested that ‘because [Mr Oyston’s conviction] occurred before June 2004, it is not recognised under our owners and directors test. And [that] is simply why Owen Oyston is not banned under our test’.
“That does not seem to me to be in accordance with the proper construction of the EFL Regulations.
“In my view it is plain and obvious that, once the new regulations came into force, a relevant individual who was, for example, a registered sex offender would, henceforth, fail the Owners’ and Directors’ test.”
In their letter, BST say: “You may remember that at the meeting between the EFL and Blackpool fans in March 2018, BST raised the issue of the Owner and Director Test and the EFL’s position that it was not possible to apply this test retrospectively. We challenged that decision based on our reading of your regulations.
“Since that time, we have been able to instruct a QC to consider the EFL regulations in relation to this test and have shared with him the correspondence that passed between us at the time.
“As you are already aware, the situation at Blackpool FC has changed considerably (and for the better) since we had the original discussion on this matter.
“However, Blackpool fans are acutely aware that even now there is still a possibility that Owen Oyston could raise the funds required to settle his debt to Valeri Belokon and if this should happen before the receiver has sold the football club, then technically he would retain possession of the club.
“I hope that you will agree that such a scenario is unthinkable and that Blackpool fans deserve to have some assurance that there is no way back for Owen Oyston.
“We believe that this QC’s opinion, which is aligned with that of BST, should signal the end of even the remotest possibility of Owen Oyston being able to hold on to Blackpool FC.
“Even without this, can we be assured that should Mr Oyston attempt to regain control of the football club, he would in any case need to reapply to you being as he has been removed from the board of Blackpool FC and would therefore have to face the ODT test in the same way as a new owner?
“In our view it is important that as many people as possible understand that your (very welcome) decision not to deduct points from the club this season is only part of the problem that we have faced; until the EFL grasps the nettle of Mr Oyston’s fitness (or lack of it) to hold a position of authority our club remains at risk and indeed so does any club he might choose to attach himself to in the future.
“You promised us at the March 2018 meeting that the EFL would not stand in the way of regime change at Blackpool.
“Dealing once and for all with Mr. Oyston would be a big step towards making good on that promise.”