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Monday, June 17, 2024

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Is the End Finally Coming to the Turbulent Seaside War?

It looks like the end is nigh for Blackpool F.C owners. The Oystons have been at war with themselves in recent weeks; ever since I wrote my last article depicting what had changed from the previous year. However, it looks like things are coming to an end following some deadline day news.

While clubs around the country were fascinated with what player they might be signing before the 11 pm deadline, Blackpool fans were more interested in the 4 pm deadline. The Oyston family had up until that time to pay Latvian business owner Valeri Belokon the second £10 million instalment they owed him following the court’s decision last year.  However, the £10 million was nowhere to be seen which lead to the supporters group Tangerine Knights twitter page giving an update stating “No payment by 4 pm #TickTock”.

The hashtag of TickTock is right. The clock, until the Oystons leave the club, has ticked and tocked for too long now but this new development looks like the clock will stop, and there is no sign of it being brought back to life. The time has come for them to leave and it looks like a member of the Oyston family has finally seen the light.

Karl Oyston, son of owner Owen, has been the main villain and a major contributor to the poor management of the club. Following years of battling with fans through all mediums be that face to face in court or online or texting or even changing the number plates of his car to provoke fans, Karl looks like he has given up the fight. Having had his name removed from several Oyston companies as a director, be that through his choice or Owen’s, the impression is Karl has had enough of the club and wants to leave. However, for some mind-boggling reason, Owen still sees a future and is persevering with the running of the club.

It makes no logical or financial sense. However, the war as stated has turned into a civil war with this latest disagreement afoot. Owen has requested more time from the judge to sell his assets to meet the payment for Mr Belokon, but that looks highly unlikely.  I think it is time Owen took the hint.

The war was put on pause following the passing of club legend and key figure of the Seaside club; Jimmy Armfield OBE. This seemed an incredibly fitting act given how humble and gentle the man was. There was a planned joint protest by Blackpool and Charlton fans but instead that turned into a joint remembrance for a man who gave it all for football whether that was a player, manager, commentator or ambassador.

However, the Oyston family threw a curveball to the Not A Penny More (NAPM) loyalty of Blackpool fans as they stated that all match day sales of tickets would go to the local Trinity Hospice where Mr Armfield was treated so well.

Many fans were divided on the matter and wanted to show their respects to a man who had pleased them for so many years at Bloomfield Road where he had done that. But some could not bring themselves to enter the stadium while the Oystons are still in charge. Instead, they paid respect by Mr Armfield’s statue and gave what they would have paid for the match to the local hospice.

Perhaps this is cynical thinking, but you have to think this was one more laugh the Oyston family had. It was as if they were trying to question how committed Blackpool fans were to their cause. However, both NAPM supporters (many attend away fixtures) and supporters who still go to home games respected each other’s decision that day in the name of the great Jimmy Armfield.

The circus that is Blackpool F.C at the moment continued as the game was actually abandoned an hour before kick-off following a torrential downpour on the Fylde Coast producing standing water on the pitch, yet local side AFC Blackpool continued with their game. The game was cancelled. However, the celebrations and remembrance for Jimmy Armfield continued.

The whole affair did leave a sour taste in the mouth and even more so when Charlton boss Karl Robinson claimed that Blackpool hierarchy stated that The Addicks players did not want to play the game. He mentioned the chairman Karl Oyston, but in fact, he meant owner Owen Oyston as the person who made this outrageous claim. Robinson knows all about difficult owners and apologised to Karl afterwards.

Like the famous resort itself, Blackpool F.C is non-stop. The Blackpool Gazette writer, Matt Scrafton, must wake up thinking “Right, what else has happened at the club now?” and he is right to think that. It seems to be one thing after another but with the failed payment of £10 million and a further two payments of £7.5 million to go could this be the end to the show that would put P. T. Barnum to shame.

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