When rich investors take an interest in a football club, fans only see the positives especially if the club is performing poorly as an injection of cash usually brings clubs quality signings who can help the club escape its predicament. The logical purpose of buying a football club is to make the club successful on and off the pitch so that the club benefits financially along with the owner. A formidable partnership is required between the hierarchy of a football club and the supporters to make a football team and this has been apparent over the years with Manchester City being the most recognisable example. However, in today’s era of football, owners seem to forget the responsibilities they take on when owning a football club especially to the fans.
The ownership of the Oyston family over Blackpool football club has been a notable example of how poor ownership builds up frustration. The wealth of the Oyston’s is unsurpassed with their extravagance exhibited regularly on social media with members of the family uploading images of Range Rovers as well as other expensive items. They are often referred to in light of Blackpool’s climb up the divisions from the Football League Two to the Premier League with the Oyston’s, as well as Latvian president and part owner Valeri Belokon, investing millions into the club to get them to the promised land. The money invested by the Oyston family meant they were promoted to the Premier League under Ian Holloway however the club’s departure from the top tier of English football in 2011 was the start of the club’s downfall.
Following the clubs exit from the Premier League, Blackpool made the play-off final but lost, against West Ham, and the following season, they lost influential and inspiring manager Ian Holloway left the club in 2012 for Crystal Palace and was replaced by Michael Appleton. This was a decision made by the Oyston’s which was the start of an unsuccessful merry go round of managers which inevitably resulted in relegation to Football League One in 2015. This however wasn’t helped by the Oyston’s who didn’t help improve the squad like it did in the build up to Blackpool’s promotion to the Premier League. Key departures such as Charlie Adam weren’t replaced and the Oyston’s were reported to have continually lost money through the club which saw distrust amongst supporters who felt the Oyston’s had outstayed their welcome by the 2014-15 season. But Karl Oyston, son of Owen Oyston, (who are both owners of the club) turned fans against the club’s owners when he made some unforgiveable comments about one of the club’s supporters. In December 2014, it was revealed that Karl Oyston had exchanged a few text messages with one of the club’s supporters with the fan stating that Oyston referred to him as a “retard” in reports in the Guardian.
This certainly prompted a series of protests against the Oyston’s and most notably with a pitch invasion by supporters against Huddersfield in May 2015 and this was to be one of their last memories in the Championship as they were inevitably relegated at the end of the 2014-15 season. The Oyston’s poor mannerisms and lack of investment was claimed to be the reason for relegation and the Oyston family continue to benefit from owning the club but Blackpool fans continue to lose out with successive relegations looking likely.
The Oyston family are one of the examples of how owners run a football club into the ground. Recent stories of poor ownership extend to Leeds United where current owner Massimo Cellino continues to wreak havoc at Elland Road with at least five managers being removed since his arrival in 2014. Owners are increasingly taking the support of fans for granted by using their funds to make themselves successful rather than the club and eventually, fans will start to treat the club with the same dignity that the owners do. They will eventually stop some funds going to owners by not attending matches which may show some disloyalty however, this Is the only way to make owners realise the implications of their decisions.