Often Partisan

Football Ownership – When Protesting Goes Too Far

Problems with football ownership isn’t a concern only for fans of Birmingham City. You only have to look down the A45 to see the travails of Coventry City fans to see how the actions of owners can severely impact on how a fan watches their club.

I’ve been watching events from Blackpool from afar – and since before Lee Clark took charge at Bloomfield Road. This is a club where the chairman took wages of £11million the solitary season they were in the top flight, which made a profit of £9.45million this year despite having a “hellhole” of a training ground that they have seen fit to only outfit with temporary buildings. It’s fair to say the Tangerines fans are not happy.

What caught my eye was this thread on Back Henry Street, itself a defendant in a pending libel action brought by the Oystons. The thread described a demonstration by a large Blackpool FC protest group called “Tangerine Knights” near to the home of Blackpool FC Chairman Karl Oyston. There are reports of Oyston firing a shotgun to scare away people from the public footpath near his home; of a local hostelry being forced to close its doors due to the fans who were protesting; of smoke bombs, police and all the other things you’d expect with a big protest over an emotive issue.

As much as I think that the Blackpool fans have every right to peacefully protest against what they see as bad ownership for their club, I just wonder if it’s gone too far. I was thinking to myself had Carson Yeung or Peter Pannu been based somewhere near to St Andrew’s would Blues fans have acted in the same manner – and how I would feel about that.

I have to be honest in that I have been both to Carson’s house in Barker Road, and to the offices of Asia Rays (Peter Pannu’s company) in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. When I visited Carson’s house (or more accurately the gate at the bottom of his drive) I rang the entryphone, got no response and took some pics; likewise when visiting the offices were Asia Rays were based we asked a few questions and took some pics without doing anything else.

The thought of throwing eggs, or smoke bombs – or anything else for that matter would never have crossed my mind – and I wonder if the Blackpool fans have damaged their credibility by undertaking such actions. I’ve always been fairly vocal about not wanting to protest at St Andrew’s and this is precisely why – policing a protest is hard and ensuring that nothing illegal or damaging to the cause is a very difficult job for organisers – and of course we have the added issue that the protagonists in our issues aren’t present in the UK.

What must stick in the craw even more for Blackpool fans is that Karl Oyston is also on the Football League board of directors – who are the of course the executive for the regulatory body for football clubs in the Championship. Imagine knowing that complaining to the FL isn’t going to get you anywhere because the fox is ruling the henhouse?

I suspect we’ll be hearing more about this battle between owners and fans, just as we will at other clubs up and down the country. My personal hope is that our travails are over soon and that the club will be brought by people who can invest in it and run it as a sustainable business model – hopefully with some input at some level from us, the fans.

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37 Responses to “Football Ownership – When Protesting Goes Too Far”

  • Mickey07 says:

    As you well know blues fans biggest problem is with Peter pannu more so than carson yeung,pannu outburst on this site,pannu mocking the fans waving the money,pannus bullying ways,pannu underhand tactics,staff at the club can’t stand the man either etc etc i would put pannu straight in the Karl oyston bracket,if pannu was based in brum I imagine his life would be worst than oystons as we have a fair about and more loons than Blackpool following us,but if your going to take the amount of money out the clubs like oyston and pannu have done then why should the fans give them an easy ride?

    • almajir says:

      There is “giving them an easy ride” and then there are actions tantamount to harrassment. Some of that stuff could get people into bother legally – which will also get the organisers into trouble. Did you know if you organise a protest you’re legally responsible for the actions of everyone involved?

  • blue n bad says:

    Whether you are proactive like Blackpool fans or relatively apathetic like Blues supporters it doesn`t really matter.At the end of the day the owners are omnipotent and there`s little we can do to change that.Oyston and Yeung are hard-headed business people who are unlikely to worry about demonstrations against them however aggressive.Our only hope (and Blackpool`s) is that somehow,somewhere a palatable offer is received and the present incumbents decide to accept it. In the meantime,we sit back and wait because there is NOTHING we can do to alter events.

    • almajir says:

      So why do you advocate boycotts then?

      • blue n bad says:

        I only advocate boycotts from a purely `wishful thinking` standpoint.I`m not stupid enough to ever think this policy would garner enough support to make it workable.There are thousands staying away on a principle but equally thousands are still attending.Unless an overwhelming majority backed boycotting the matches then it clearly has no future in practice.Although i feel it could have an effect it is a non-starter and that is why i think,as fans,there is NOTHING we can do. I would like to clarify that i have never said such a move would work.I don`t know that it would make the slighest difference but worth a try….?

        • almajir says:

          As I’ve repeatedly said (and it seems I’ve been repeatedly ignored), ticket revenue is a very low proportion (16%) of turnover – and as season ticket money is taken in advance, matchday ticket money would have zero effect on the owners.

          Stay away if you feel that’s right but I think personally you’re cutting off your own nose to spite your face.

          • blue n bad says:

            Yes you have repeated that ad infintum so i get your point of view. However 16% is still a sizeable amount of money.It may not force a sale but i think Mr Yeung would find it unpalatable. Your point about season tickets is fair but shortly the club will be asking people to renew.Well here`s a thought…..don`t. See how they respond to that (of course it won`t happen). As for your final comment i`m completely comfortable not going as i`m doing it for a principle i believe in and as much as you disagree with that i hope you understand. Do you think BIHL could or would ignore an empty stadium every matchday?

          • almajir says:

            I get what you’re saying but I can’t agree.

            Thing is – and this is incredibly difficult to understand until you’ve experienced it for yourself – Birmingham is massively abstract when you’re in HK. I doubt people in BIH know much less care about attendances – and by corollary, a boycott wouldn’t make an impact because I don’t think they would even know it had happened. I said at the time of the start of Carson’s trial that 3,000 naked brummies could do a conga around the Bullring in protest and no one would know in HK.

            Season tickets won’t be boycotted – if anything I think they’ll sell more this year. You’ve admitted yourself a boycott is unlikely to happen. So why continue? Especially when it would appear to this simple person your boycott is basically you staying away – there is no element of protest to it. That’s the bit I don’t get.

          • atko says:

            Boycotts hurt the club a lot more than they hurt BIHL! That 16% means nothing to those in HK but to the club that is a massive amount of money as things stand right now. Thankfully the club have satisfied the Football League that we are financially viable right now but if we weren’t then those boycotting could blame themselves as much as those in HK. The money that comes in to the club stays in the club, BIHL cannot just take money out of Blues with E&Y at the helm now. Boycotting ONLY hurts Blues!!

  • Blooflame says:

    I’m pretty sure that if Pannu was living here now and could be located, I really believe something very bad would happen to him. The world is full of people without scruples and our club certainly has is share of those. I don’t think I’d shed a tear if that particular scenario was fullfilled

  • Big Al says:

    Without being too galling I think the test case of B’ham City will go down in history, where one supporter took up the fight and consistently out-witted the clubs hierarchy to the point they lost the plot on his website causing a huge fall-out in our favour. Unfortunately it’s also meant that one person has had to most of the donkey work. Your like a football Bob Geldof Daniel without the crazy blonde wife?

  • Mineheadblue says:

    Dan, I haven’t always agree with your views on protest as I think that peaceful protest CAN raise awareness and ruffle feathers (if only you could ask Gandhi). However, it does look as though things are FINALLY moving forward thanks to the more responsible members of the Board pulling their fingers out.


  • ChrisG says:

    I think it’s totally wrong that any football club owner should be on the board of the FL, what hope do any fans have in that situation especially with what he has done to Blackpool, it just goes to show how gutless they are at the FL when they can’t pull up one of their directors for misownership. I’ve said for a long time that anyone who is on the board of the FL & PL for that matter should come from a football background but should not hold any ties to any one club

  • PutneyBlue says:

    If we’re talking about protesting against people, let’s not forget who sold the club to the current owners.

    I find it difficult to believe they felt they were selling to a someone who had the clubs real interests at heart.

    They’re worth a protest or two (the peaceful variety).

  • tamuffblue says:

    Its not a matter of boycotting BUT paying a seasons worth of money up front therefor giving the aforementioned despicable incumbents the oxygen they require to maintain ripping the life out of the club which without parachute payments is THE ONLY LIFELINE THEY HAVE !!!

  • Stevie W says:

    I think the fact that because PP and CY are not here is the reason why demonstrations have not kicked off with any real venom. The so called apathy of Blues fans is because there is nowhere to throw your anger only at each other and we have seen many moments of that both on forums and indeed in the crowds at times.

    There is no authority when it comes to football business that appeases the fans as has been demonstrated so many times with clubs all over the country. Fans believe it is a sport and the owners believe it is a business and rarely the two meet in harmony.

    Looking forward to the next few weeks I believe good things on the way.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      “Fans believe it is a sport and the owners believe it is a business and rarely the two meet in harmony.”

      That’s a brilliant point well made.

  • Agent McLeish says:

    Protests only work where a company or organisation is highly sensitive about it’s image or has business activities disrupted. E.g.if BIHL also owned Tesco then protests outside of Tesco may result in some dialogue or action. As BIHL are not sensitive to their image then protests are futile.

    The FL, HKSE or SFC however do have a image to portay as a responsibile organisation. They are also accountable to an extent on a political scale. Information provided or gained in these areas would be far more effective as per the Blues trust work.

  • Strettonbluenose says:

    Dan’ hopes that “the club will be brought by people who can invest in it and run it as a sustainable business model”. That’s what Gold and Sullivan did. Unfortunatly, a lot of Blues fans are like a lot of football fans and they think that “investment” is the same as “donation”. Well it isn’t and Gold and Sullivan “invested” but didn’t “donate”.
    After Yeung failed to come up with the money to buy Blues in one go, my recollection is that Gold and Sullivan were very cross and said they would never deal with Yeung again. Now I know money talks but it couldn’t have helped when some “fans” thought they hadn’t “donated” enough and protested not so peacfully including threatening Sullivans son. I guess Gold and Sullivan got the ultimate revenge on the protesters by putting us in our current predicament.
    With BIH being in administration, you will not affect Yeung at all by staying away. You’re much more likely to affect Gary Rowett’s spending power.
    And the moral of the story is be careful what youwish for, don’t protest and get down to Stand as often as you can!

  • blue n bad says:

    Dan i think BIHL would be concerned about a decent chunk of revenue from BCFC being taken away particularly as it`s their only major asset.You say that my non-attendance is not a protest but i take issue with that.What else can i do?You`ve readily admitted that a physical protest will have no impact in HK and i tend to agree so i`m doing the only option i have.You ask why continue? I`ve answered that.My principles will not allow me to part with hard-earned money to a bunch of crooks who care not one jot about us.I`m aware i can`t win this battle but i`m making a stand for what`s it`s worth.There are plenty of others,only about 15,000 Blues fans went to see a local derby with high-flying Wolves.Of course stay away fans aren`t all actively protesting but i hazard to guess that thousands are.If you or anyone else can tell me a better way to accelerate the departure of these vultures please feel free to drop me a line and i`ll do it.Until then my pound stays in my pocket. KRO.

    • atko says:

      As I pointed out earlier in the post though, you are hurting the club though not BIHL. You are not lining BIHL’s pockets, the money goes to the club not to BIHL. The latter cannot withdraw money from Blues at will as you seem to be implying & E&Y will certainly not allow that! If a business is in administration that means ALL business is conducted by the administrators and nobody else. It’s the law! When fans part with their money at the turnstiles they are doing so to watch the Blues live in a 90 minute game of football. To those still going week in, week out, it is THAT activity that matters most, it gives them the opportunity to forget everything else for 90 minutes to watch a game of football. Boycott that & you lose, the club loses & BIHL are totally unaffected.

      • blue n bad says:

        There`s little point in going round in circles on this one.I believe a total boycott would affect them as club revenues provide them with a substantial income.You disagree and that`s fine…keep going and i`ll keep boycotting as i`m not prepared to give them any of my money. You say i lose out by not going but actually that`s not right.I`m very comfortable in my decision as are many thousands of others (check our attendances). One thing i`d like answered and perhaps Dan could explain it but how is/was Pannu paid his huge salary when i can`t see any income going into BIHL?

  • Ted says:

    Wait a minute Daniel… Your Naked Conga around the Bullring could be a brilliant idea. Fans wearing only blues scarves could sing “they’ve taken everything except our colours” or “Keep right on til the end of our clothes”. It would most certainly get media attention – and naked fans are unlikely to turn violent. Just as a matter of interest, how many female fans do we have?

  • blue1973 says:

    I think bluenose have conducted themselves with a high level of dignity and self respect throughout this whole sorry period under Carson Yeung etc. This has been noted around the footballing community, as well as the wider business community. Hence why 7 bids are now on the table. Bidders see blues as both a club and a fan base a safe bet. When the kids had a go at Sullivan years ago it was a turning point in the fans conduct. Most bluenoses turned against this lads and it’s not been seen since thankfully. Any recent protest at blues has been peaceful and conducted with utmost dignity to show the difference between respectful, honest and hard working fans and the silent goings on in HK.

  • Oyston out says:

    He actually joined his son wore a mask and pointed the guns to the fans.. And Personally for anybody to “Question” the actions of blackpool fans is an absolute head scratcher.. This is a man who has rinsed and drained the passion of not just a football club which financially has plenty of potential to be a top flight club.. But he has drained the passion towards the sport in the town.. At previous protests he has mocked and laughed in supporters faces.. For example the time he posed in front of a “oyston out” banner and then turning up to the next home protest with “oy51 out” as a car registration. And the way he called a fan a “Retard”.. Is that a term to describe a fan?? A human being even?? This is a man that is supposedly regarded as a “person of importance” within the English f.a…Please remember these are supporters who have payed good money to watch there team play and he is abusing there loyalty.. Would “bluenoses” really behave in a higher level or dignity??? Very questionable!! His actions need to be taken seriously not just by the FA but by football supporters in general.. It is people like this that are ruining the beautiful game

  • Tony says:

    Blackpool fans are I would suggest a rather genteel crowd compared to some of our fans, if Pannu or Yeung lived locally something bad would happen and as has been said earlier I would certainly not shed a tear.

  • blue1973 says:

    I read Oyston Out’s post with interest. It seems to me this Blackpool chairman has done a few things towards Blackpool supporters that are both vile and disgusting. When fans see the heart of a club being ripped out of it and then have owners taking the pee in front of them, it all reads for a rather unpleasant situation.
    On the other hand, we had Ken Wheldon pick up the ashes of what remained after Keith Coombes bankrupted the club. I remember Karren Brady finding financial irregularities going back years under Kumars, Wheldon and Coombes. They attended matches and lived in the Midlands. Nothing like death threats happened etc.
    I really hope Blackpool fans get true club back to where it should be. Sometimes you have to weather the worst times before it will get better again.

  • blue n bad says:

    The plight of Blues,Blackpool and other clubs raises a bigger issue.To any right-minded fan some of these owners are clearly unfit for purpose with only their own interests at heart.The `fit and proper` test` simply has to be more stringent.The cursory checks on Yeung,,Oyston and co. are patently not working and, i fear, that the money in the game is attracting the wrong people with an agenda unpalatable to the ordinary supporter.

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