Ian Holloway: It has been a week from hell – and we were made to pay dearly for it
If you as a fan don't like the way the club is run, then don't buy a ticket
Sunday 11 March 2012
To say I've had a bad week is putting it mildly. World War Three over a multi-million-pound payment to my owner at Blackpool; Robbie Fowler deciding against signing for us; and stories about not being allowed to check in at the team hotel in Peterborough on Friday because our credit card was maxed out. You couldn't make it up.
The one that really got me annoyed was the news that £11m has gone to our owner Owen Oyston. I'm not annoyed with Owen, I'm fuming at the reaction to it.
A Sunday newspaper started the nonsense by writing an article last week portraying Owen as one of the biggest villains on the planet. It was a horribly one-sided piece. But then again Owen is a Labour man, so maybe that is why a notoriously right-wing paper did it.
What upset me most was that a newspaper which understands nothing about how our club is run made Owen out to be worse than those greedy, horrible bankers who almost brought our country to its knees and robbed the taxpayer blind.
Owen is nothing of the sort. He is simply a Blackpool fan who has been helping the club through troubled times since he bought the place in 1987. He has taken loads of flak when things have gone wrong, and by the same token he should get the rewards when they go right.
We got more than £40m from our season in the Premier League. That means he has done his job very well and like any successful businessman he can reward himself for it. A dividend of £11m was duly paid to a company owned by Owen.
Why is it a big deal anyway if he has got some money? If I do my shopping at Asda and I see the store manager driving away from work in a flash Bentley, I'm not going to demand to know why he has a few more quid than everyone else. I know why. It is because he is the boss, and with that comes more responsibility and a higher wage.
But our fans, some of whom don't like the Oyston family anyway, seem to have gone ballistic about it and they went berserk at me too when I stuck up for Owen.
Erm, hang on. I am allowed an opinion and I stick to what I said. If you as a fan don't like the way our club is run, then don't buy a ticket and don't come. I might be being blunt with our supporters but I'm not attacking them, I'm just pointing out that no one is forcing them to be there.
I hope they calm down, realise the article is simply a bit of mischief-making, and start focusing on the football again because how on earth are we going to stand a chance of achieving our main aim, to get back up into the Premier League, if all this rubbish is going on in the background?
As I said, it has been a bad week. After losing at Derby in midweek – a defeat we could have done without – Robbie Fowler decided not to sign for us. I was gutted because I'd been so excited about the possibility of a footballing legend coming to the club and he had looked the real deal during training.
But he didn't like the terms we were offering him – a low basic salary, with big incentives for when he played and scored – and he decided to look elsewhere. It's a shame but we offered the best package we could and Robbie decided it wasn't for him. It is no one's fault, and we get on with it.
As if things couldn't get any worse, our coach turned up at Peterborough on Friday night – we were staying in a hotel ahead of yesterday's game – and there was a mix-up over a credit card and how we were going to pay. A non-story really but it somehow found its way into the papers... and they make sure to mention that our owner got £11m and we can't afford a hotel. More mischief-making.
I suppose on the plus side life is never dull at Blackpool, and journalists must love us, but I could do without it because I am seriously worried it could take our focus off the main thing: trying to win promotion.
I have my fingers very tightly crossed that the next seven days will be a bit quieter and we can concentrate on football rather than have to deal with off-the-pitch issues.
Now that AVB has gone, the players know they have got to improve
Compared with Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo has bags of experience as a boss. After the admission by senior players such as John Terry that they have under-performed, this could be a turning point for the club.
I expect Chelsea to significantly improve now and the battle for fourth place could turn out to be a right royal ding-dong.
I've always liked Di Matteo. I came up against him when he was at West Bromwich. Every time I saw him he had a smile on his face and he was a lovely, courteous fella and he was very harshly sacked by the Baggies.
I believe he will get the full respect of the Chelsea dressing room because the players aren't stupid. They have got their own way with AVB going, but they know they now have to improve and turn things around and that will help the new man.
Villas-Boas didn't ever have respect because he was trying to change an awful lot of things without having fully proven himself as a successful manager. He was too young and inexperienced.
Di Matteo has already been around a bit and he now has a fantastic chance to enhance his reputation.
It sums up how weird football is. Manager gets sacked by West Brom, ends up as Chelsea boss. But it is a terrific opportunity for Di Matteo to make the job his own, which, with a good end to the season, he could well do.
Sugar's taste of things to come
One of the cleverest blokes I have met is Lord Sugar. So when he got out of football in the 1990s saying it didn't make financial sense to run a club, it should have made people sit up and take notice. It is why anyone who wants to own a club should have to pass a stringent set of rules and why a fit and proper persons test has to be tightened up. There are a lot of businessmen who still seem to treat football as a toy with effects that can be devastating on whole communities.
We are talking about institutions which mean the world to people. Supporters have their club's crest tattooed on their arms.
So where have these wannabe owners got their money from? What business acumen do they have? Are they going to be able to sustain their backing?
Clearly at Portsmouth not enough questions were asked and the poor supporters are on the verge of losing a huge part of their lives.
Rangers are claimed to have run up a bill of £49m in unpaid tax. How can that happen? Businesses of a similar size wouldn't be able to do that and a football club should be no different.
There are great people in football but there are also some very questionable types who aren't in it for the good of the club. They must be prevented from entering the industry, or the number of clubs in serious trouble will keep rising.
Mr and Mrs Davies, your son is brave
I just want to say thank you to Mr and Mrs Davies. Their son Steve scored two goals against us for Derby in midweek and although I wasn't happy because it meant we lost, I made a point of praising the lad because he has just returned from a horrible fractured skull.
He is playing with a plate in his head but he has scored three goals in his first two games back – two with his head.
Our club received a phone call from Steve's parents the next day thanking me for my comments.
I was delighted they took the trouble to do that and in return I would like to say thanks ever so much to them for raising a son who is so brave.
I might be a football manager but I am a parent first and foremost and I know how difficult the last few months must have been for them. They should be very proud of him.
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