'I can't wait to be back' says Blackpool fan sued by the Oystons
A Blackpool fan who the Oyston family attempted to sue is hoping this weekend’s big homecoming will finally draw a line under his ordeal.
Paul Crashley was taken to court over alleged defamatory comments on the fans’ forum he ran, Back Henry Street, in 2014.
But on the day a court case between the Oystons and Valeri Belokon began, it emerged the case against Mr Crashley had been struck out.
The Oystons were suing the message board for up to £150,000 over six defamatory comments allegedly posted on the site.
Official court documents showed both Owen and Karl Oyston, plus Blackpool FC, were hoping to claim damages of £150,000 each.
Crashley, who hasn’t set foot inside Bloomfield Road in five years, says today’s return is everything he has been fighting for.
“It’s a big deal,” he told The Gazette. “I looked it up and January 2014 was the last time I bought a ticket.
“It’s a great feeling and it’s almost like a big full stop to it all, despite things still ongoing with the court case.
“It’s a big day and I think it does take on extra meaning for me given everything I’ve been through.
“All my family are going, everyone I’ve met because of what’s happened are going. It’s like everything I’ve been fighting for basically.”
While Crashley believes it will be a momentous day for all concerned, the Blackpool fan admits it will be a surreal experience.
“I basically stopped caring about football for four or five years,” he said.
“I didn’t really pay any attention to the club outside of what’s been going on in terms of the Oystons. Then all of a sudden you’re excited about going to a football match again.
“I’ve been to a couple of away games when I paid on the gate but nothing is the same as going back inside Bloomfield Road.
“I’m taking my daughter as well who was a child last time she went, now she’s starting university. It’s a big deal.”
Crashley is far from being the only fan that the Oystons took legal action against, and he’s now hoping Saturday’s homecoming will be a watershed moment for them all.
He added: “I don’t think about them. If I did, it wouldn’t be nice stuff.
“What they’ve done to me and what they’ve done to some other people who haven’t had the means financially or the strength to fight against what has been an injustice, suing vulnerable people for defamation and have it all turn out to be true anyway - it’s just disgusting.
“But hopefully all those people can now start living their lives again and enjoy their football again.”