Blackpool’s chairman quits over Premier League ethics

Aug 19, 2010
Bill Mann

Karl Oyston said he found the way football clubs do business in the Premier League ‘unacceptable’

The brains behind Blackpool's rise to the Premier League has resigned but not before firing a broadside at the greed in the modern game. Chairman Karl Oyston helped steer the unfashionable seaside club to the top flight of English football by applying common sense to the way he did business. Refusing to pay win bonuses or appearance fees, Oyston also set a salary cap of £10,000-a-week for players, none of which prevented Blackpool from winning promotion last season from the Championship to the Premier League, the first time the club has been in the top tier of English football since 1971.

And the esprit de corps that Oyston has worked so hard to foster was in evidence on the opening day of the new season when Blackpool thrashed Wigan 4-0, but that still wasn't enough to dissuade Oyston from resigning with immediate effect.

Though he will remain as acting chief executive until the end of the season – or until a replacement is appointed – Oyston's decision was born from an increasing disillusionment with what he sees as the lack of principles in the Premier League when it comes to the buying and selling of players. "Everyone else seems to subscribe to the way business seems to be conducted and it is a way I find unacceptable," he said, adding: "The more I speak to other people at other clubs, the more I realise I am a lone voice. I'm not sure I have the right approach to be in this division."

Oyston's fiercest criticism was reserved for players' agents, a breed of men he clearly loathes. "I don't think any deal should be about the agent," said the 43-year-old. "It should be about the player, about giving them a platform to perform under a wonderful manager on one of world's best stages [but] agents are sometimes denying their clients that chance and, from a long-term perspective, it can't be a good decision for a player to forego the chance to play in the Premier League under a manager like Ian Holloway."

According to the Blackpool Gazette, stories of unrest within the squad had been circulating for a while with the lack of bonuses a particularly contentious issue among players. In addition, manager Holloway was allegedly growing ever more exasperated at his inability to compete in the transfer market because of the salary cap. Significantly, in the past week the purse strings at Blackpool have been loosened, allowing Holloway to sign seven new players, including Israel defender Dekel Keinan.

Oyston's shock announcement came on the same day that the Football League disclosed it has increased its payments to agents by £3.9m in the past 12 months to a total of £12.7m, with over £10m of that figure coming from Championship transactions. Middlesbrough forked out the most on agents' fees, a staggering £1,464,200 for 29 player transfers. The figures have caused alarm within the Football League with the organisation's new chairman, Greg Clarke, admitting: "Given the current economic climate, it is worrying to see such a significant amount leaking from the game. This year's figures demonstrate a considerable increase on those of last season and it is essential that clubs work to reduce this liability over the coming campaign."

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