Premier League are powerless to ban controversial Oyston
Monday 24 May 2010
Blackpool's promotion leaves the Premier League with the major embarrassment of having a convicted rapist as owner of one of its clubs. Owen Oyston, the majority shareholder of Blackpool, served three and a half years of the six-year jail term he received for the rape and indecent assault of a 16-year-old girl in 1996.
The Premier League has taken legal advice and been told that, because Oyston's conviction occurred before the "fit and proper person" test was introduced in 2004, any move to bar him from the club's board of directors would be considered "not legally sustainable". He passed the similar test for the Football League for that reason.
Blackpool will have to report Oyston's conviction on their directors' declaration, which must be submitted to the Premier League before the start of next season. But it appears that Oyston, 76, will be permitted to remain.
Oyston has owned the club since 1988, although for the past 11 years his son Karl, 42, has been the chairman. In 2009 a Latvian banker, Valeri Belokon, agreed to buy new shares equivalent to 20 per cent of Blackpool for £4.5m, a move which now looks a wonderful decision, with the club guaranteed £90m even if they finish bottom next season.
A better decision, certainly, than wearing his tangerine suit to Wembley on Saturday.
Belokon, who is president of Blackpool and bankrolled the club's modest ventures into the transfer market last summer, said he will get out the tangerine suit again when the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, comes to Bloomfield Road next season.
Belokon, who put up the £5m bonus the players will receive for gaining promotion, said: "I hope they enjoy coming to our stadium and, yes, I will wear this suit to welcome Roman Abramovich in our boardroom, especially if it's an important fixture relative to our League position. Of course you need money, but much more important is having the right manager and the belief. We are a model for other clubs to follow. But the players are worth every penny of their bonus."
The big question now facing Blackpool's directors is to decide what to do with their windfall. The priority will be improving facilities at the club's 12,555-capacity stadium and updating the training ground at Squires Gate, which has not changed much since Sir Stanley Matthews' days. The other factor will be how much to spend on new players. Karl Oyston has promised the manager, Ian Holloway, whatever money he deems necessary to upgrade the team. "There would certainly be plenty of money to spend if that is the way we decide to go," he said.
Holloway promised to be "ruthless" as he assesses which players he will move on this summer: "I've got some decisions to make and I've got to look at the standard I'm playing at and I've got to look at the lads who are out of contract and what I think."
The £90m would have been a lifeline for Cardiff, but the club's new Malaysian chairman, Dato Chan Tien Ghee, who is to replace Peter Ridsdale later this month, said that the future was not as bleak as some feared. The property millionaire, known in Cardiff as TG, also promised that the City manager, David Jones, would be retained under the new regime.
He said: "Nobody likes being in this position, but I promise this: I will work very hard and do whatever it takes to get us up next season. Dave Jones still be at Cardiff next season? Of course."
Blackpool Football Club were founded in 1887, and will be the 44th team to play in the Premier League, after rising three divisions in 10 years.
*Won the FA Cup in 1953, defeating Bolton 4-3 in the "Matthews Final", named after Sir Stanley Matthews' performance in his sole FA Cup final victory. Stan Mortensen's hat-trick for the Seasiders remains the only one scored in an FA Cup final at Wembley.
*This season's average attendance at Bloomfield Road of 8,611 was the second worst in the Championship, behind Scunthorpe United.
One to watch
*24-year-old Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam, a £500,000 record buy from Rangers last summer, has scored 19 goals this season. JAMES ORR
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