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BST Gazette Column

BST15/04/2016

Saturday 30th April is being labelled Judgement Day 2, final home game of the season for Blackpool FC, maybe final home game in League One for some considerable time.

Many fans will see it as another opportunity to voice their disapproval of Karl Oyston’s running of the club. Last season he famously remarked “Judge me in May” and we did so. This season, although he’s been more circumspect, as chairman he is still open to criticism after yet another disastrous season. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Owen Oyston is really the one who needs to put things right at Bloomfield Road. If the fans are passing judgement on the custodianship of the club, then the majority shareholder and the man responsible for appointing Karl in the first place ought to be feeling the weight of the fans’ disappointment and disapproval.

It is Owen after all, and not Karl, who professes to be the lifelong Blackpool fan (since age two, allegedly). It is Owen who, in response to BST’s bid for the club in the autumn claimed that: “It would be irresponsible of me to simply hand this over to you as it is clear to any independent observer that you could not operate it successfully.” And it is Owen who assured us just before Christmas that: “I really believe that we can get back to winning ways and return to the top flight. For my part, I am dedicating my life to achieving the success that we all want."

If anything, the majority of fans are likely to agree that it is the Oystons who could not – or would not - operate the football club successfully, witness an under-equipped team struggling to escape a shameful second consecutive relegation in a two-thirds empty stadium.

What kind of legacy is Owen’s ownership of the club going to leave for the town of Blackpool? How many two-year olds of today are likely to become lifelong Blackpool fans with the club in the parlous state it’s in? Sadly, not many.

So Judgement Day 2 is coming for Owen Oyston. And yet it could also be a Day of Atonement for the club’s owner.

If he is serious about not selling Blackpool FC, about working instead to achieve the success we all want, he could start by acting constructively to implement changes that would provide a positive legacy from his years in charge:
- an end to litigation against fans
- the appointment of a new chairman at the club
- the installation of a director of football/chief executive to oversee strategic development
- the donation of a suitable sum (£11m?) to build a new east stand, the ‘Owen Oyston Stand’ -
this new stand would incorporate all-weather disabled facilities
- arranging access to state-of-the-art training facilities for the team
- funding a manager and a squad capable of winning promotion back to the top flight

They would be game-changing and life-changing moves and their impact would be immense for all concerned.

Many would argue that most of these are things that a benevolent and forward-thinking owner, one who truly loved his club and wanted it to prosper, would already have put in place some years ago! The clock is ticking.

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