UPDATED: Blackpool FC put on the market

Blackpool Football Club has been put up for sale by the Oyston family.

Friday, 10th November 2017, 3:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:38 pm
Bloomfield Road
Bloomfield Road

The news came at the end of a turbulent week for the club's owners, who were ordered to pay former director Valeri Belokon £31.2m on Monday and accused of "illegitimately stripping" the club of cash by a High Court judge.

Pressure was also mounting on the English Football League to act, with chiefs saying they were reviewing the judge's decision ahead of a meeting later this month.

Fans, many of whom pledged to stay away from matches until the Oystons have gone, reacted with joy, while former players said they hope the move will see stands at Bloomfield Road awash in a sea of tangerine once again.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Karl Oyston, Blackpool FC's chairman, left, and former director Valeri Belokon

Read More

Read More
REACTION: Blackpool FC fans take to social media following sale announcement

In a statement released through its website this afternoon, the club confirmed it was 'now in a position' to sell both Blackpool Football Club Limited, and Blackpool Football Club Properties Limited, which owns Bloomfield Road and property at the stadium.

No asking price was given, with 'expressions of interest' being taken by email.

The club was previously valued by Oyston representatives at £5.5m, court documents showed.

Karl Oyston, Blackpool FC's chairman, left, and former director Valeri Belokon

No mention was made of Blackpool FC Hotel, based in the stadium's south stand, a separate business also owned by the Oystons.

The statement also said the Oystons would be appealing against some of Monday's High Court ruling.

"In the interim period, as throughout the litigation process, the focus of the Football Club’s board remains on supporting the manager and continuing to negate the impact of off-field issues," it added.

Coun Tony Williams, opposition leader at Blackpool Council, had called on the Oystons to sell up, and said he wasn't surprised by the move.

He said: "Hopefully we will find buyers who will help sustain this historic club, and will rebuild all the good relationships with fans."

Christine Seddon, chairman of Blackpool Supporters' Trust, added: "I really do feel overwhelmed. I have never doubted that this day would come, I just didn't know when.

"We are very confident that there are decent people out there that will buy this club. It's like Christmas and birthdays all come early at once."

Ex-Pool midfielder Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who played for the Seasiders during their brief spell in the top flight, said: "The fans have stuck together and got what they wanted.

"Now, hopefully everyone can pull in the right direction and get the club back to where it belongs. The fans will feel as if they have got their club back, the crowds will increase, and the players will get the support they deserve."

And Ben Burgess, who made 126 appearances between 2006 and 2010 before later retiring and becoming a teacher at Hawes Side Academy, said: "It's unbelievable really.

"Once the result of the court case came out, this is what a lot of fans wanted to happen, but you have it in the back of your mind it won't.

"I work with some life-long Blackpool fans who have been boycotting, and they cheered when I told them.

"Fans are so excited - they are already talking about their first game back."

Tim Fielding, honorary vice president of Blackpool Supporters' Trust, said: "It's not sunk in yet, and it's not sold yet, but I see this as a huge, positive development. We all want to get back to supporting our team."

Mr Fielding said he believes a combination of fans' long-running 'Not a penny more' campaign and Monday's judgement led to the family's decision to sell, but said it would be 'naive to say Monday was not the main driving force'.

It was at the Rolls Building in London that Justice Marcus Smith found that the Oyston family acted improperly and paid £42m to their own companies.

The judge also said he would be ordering Owen and Karl Oyston to buy out Mr Belokon's shares in the club.

Mr Belokon, who bought a 20 per cent stake in the club in 2006, must now be regarded as a 50 per cent owner, he ruled.

The decision was greeted by cheers by the 53 fans at the hearing, and came after Mr Belokon's company, VB Football Assets, brought an action against the Oystons and their companies, alleging they had shown unfair prejudice against shareholders.

Lawyers for VB Football complained that both Mr Belokon and his nominated directors were excluded from key decisions, information and share of profits.

Owen Oyston, Blackpool's majority shareholder, and his son Karl, the club's chairman, denied the accusations during a lengthy civil trial in London earlier this year before Mr Justice Marcus Smith's ruling on Monday, and gave evidence that all financial transactions were conducted in an open and transparent manner.

Mr Belokon could not be immediately reached for a comment this afternoon.

Karl Oyston, who has yet to comment publicly on Monday's ruling, last February insisted he would not put the club up for sale.

“There’s no appetite to sell, there’s no appetite to leave, there’s a massive appetite to deal with the problems we’ve got,” Mr Oyston said.

“The on the pitch problems are well on the way to being prepared, the off field problems in some cases may be repairable, in some cases not.

“That won’t stop the football club and people around it doing what we can to repair those relationships.

“We will set our position our clearly so people can see what we are trying to achieve.”

Pool fan Andy Grice, who had to pay a Blackpool FC lawyer £180,00 over online slurs, said: "I'm delighted and from a fans' point of view the quicker the better.

"Andy Pilley's name has already been mentioned.

"But I would welcome anyone if they have the interest in developing Blackpool FC for the fans and the community.

"Blackpool is a town that needs everyone working in the right direction to improve its image and economy."

And Jeremy Smith, who faced being sued for defamation by the Oystons before the case was dropped at the last minute, said the sale should have come '20 years ago, never mind now'.

Mr Smith, who works for Karl Smith Car Sales in Blackpool, whose battle came after he was pictured holding up a doctored Gazette front page in 2014, said he would be 'delighted' if Belokon now stepped forward to buy the club.

He said: "I have had the pleasure of meeting Valeri Belokon on more than one occasion, and I have social meetings with his advisers, and they are all truly good people."

Paul Crossley from Kendricks, which is marketing the Oyston Mill in Preston for sale, as well as Sam Oyston's Hellfire club in Blackpool, said he had not been instructed to sell Blackpool FC.