Blackpool owner Owen Oyston has been removed from the board after the club were put into receivership by the High Court on February 13th, with receiver Paul Cooper appointing Michael Bolingbroke as boardroom consultant, Ben Hatton as executive director and Ian Currie as a non-executive director.
Due to the club being put into receivership, Oyston was forced to pay Valeri Belokon, the former director, £25 million which he was owed. The 85-year-old had previously been ordered to buy out Belokon for £31.27 million in November of 2017.
This news that come as a relief to Blackpool supporters, as they have been protesting against Oyston’s ownership for years and tensions have been growing between the board and fans in recent weeks.
There have been many issues between the Blackpool fans and Owen Oyston during his time at the club, with banners, protests and home games being boycotted.
Oyston did attempt to build a relationship with the fans when they spoke against him, but rather decided to sue them, with sixteen fans in total reported to have been sued by the Oyston family.
One of these fans, David Ragozzino, spoke negatively online towards the family and was subsequently made to pay £20,000 in damages.
Supporters recognised that being sued for speaking out against the board was unjustified, and set up funding sites to help those who were forced to pay up to the Oyston family.
Rather ironically, fans began to get their revenge on the owner by not paying for tickets and boycotting matches from the 2014/2015 season as the team were relegated from the Championship and then from League 1.
Tangerine’s fans have had interesting ideas in the ways in which they carry out their protests, including throwing tennis balls onto the pitch versus Burnley in 2014, while the final fixture of the season in 2015 had to be abandoned due to a pitch invasion from Blackpool fans, one of which decided to use a mobility scooter for an hour and a half, which lasted for ninety minutes.
Other forms of protesting have seen the fans protest outside the Oyston family home and also protest at the EFL headquarters in both Preston and London, while their two League Cup ties with Arsenal and their 2017 visit to Wembley were boycotted by supporters.
It is not just problems with the supporters that has caused discontent in the stands, as Blackpool began the 2014/2015 season with only nine players, while former boss Gary Bowyer felt he had to pay for training facilities himself as the ones Oyston had promised to upgrade for the previous decade became so worn down that they could no longer be used.
Why Oyston is Leaving, and What Next for the Club?
The mood within and around Blackpool FC will be better than it has been for many years following the announcement of Oyston’s departure, and the former owner will be forced to sell all of his footballing assets such as Segesta, the Travelodge he built beside the stadium and the club itself.
It all began in 2017 as the Oyston family were beaten in a High Court fight with Valeri Belokon as the businessman took action against them for displaying unfair prejudice against shareholders.
Belokon’s team have said that they hope this will “herald a new chapter in the proud history of a prestigious club.”
“It potentially marks a watershed moment for Blackpool Football Club and its loyal fanbase.
However, the club may face a twelve point deduction if the EFL decide they need to do so due to the club being put into receivership and have said they will discuss whether or not to punish Blackpool during their next meeting, which takes place on March 6th.
Regardless of whether the club gets punished, this is a huge step in the right direction for a club which has seen so much doom and gloom in recent times.