Former Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has opened up on his relationship with the club’s controversial ex-chairman Karl Oyston, who was in charge of The Seasiders during Holloway’s time at Bloomfield Road.
Holloway became manager at Blackpool in 2009 following his departure from Leicester the year before, although it seems as though Oyston originally had very little intention of giving him the role.
Recalling how he came to be Blackpool boss in his column for The Sack Race, Holloway revealed: “The Blackpool job then became available in May 2009 following the departure of Tony Parkes.
“I asked my agent to get me an interview because when I looked at their defensive structure and the players they had, I really thought that I could go there and make an impact.
“Unfortunately, their chairman, Karl Oyston, rang me himself and told me directly: “I’m not picking you, but good luck for the future.” I rang him back and said: “How dare you say that, give me a chance!”
Despite that, it seems Holloway was initially impressed with Oyston, as he continued: “The following day I went to meet Oyston in person.
“In preparation, I’d looked at what the fans had been saying, and compiled a list of questions which I put forward to him, and to be honest he answered them all brilliantly.”
It didn’t take long for Holloway to discover the size of his task at Bloomfield Road, however, as he added: “He then told me: “I’m looking for someone who can keep us in the Championship. I don’t care what you do or how you play, just don’t get us relegated.
“I’ll give you very little money so don’t moan about it.” That was it really, and it all went from there.”
Rather than simply save Blackpool from relegation from the Championship, Holloway would instead get them out of the division in dramatic style, winning promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs.
It seems, however, as though that promotion nearly brought an end to his time at the club due to an apparent contract dispute, as Holloway continued: “I had three bonuses written into my contract: I had a bonus for keeping Blackpool in the Championship, I had a bonus for getting the club into the play-offs, and I had a bonus for winning the play-offs.
“But after winning promotion Oyston only paid me one of those.
“He said: “I’m not paying you three bonuses. If your agent hasn’t written your contract well enough, and I can beat you, then that’s your fault.” Unfortunately, there was a lot of money that he didn’t pay me. I was supposed to take 5% of the money I made from selling players – but I never made a penny!”
Describing his deals with Oyston, Holloway went onto say: Right from the start Oyston refused to deal with my agent. I had to make sure that every word was right because Oyston would have had a way of reneging on it if it wasn’t actually right.
“The contract was written in a way that if I got promoted to the Premier League, which we did, I was allowed to renegotiate my contract. Before the contract expired Blackpool had to of sent me a letter to let me know whether they were taking up the option for another year.
“I was waiting for them to negotiate a contract with me, but then my wife told me that Blackpool hadn’t informed me that they were taking up the option.
“They had to have done that within six months of my contract expiring so technically I was working for them at the end of the season – after we got promoted – when I was trying to get new players signed on, but I hadn’t been told about my contract. They had breached that contract.
“But when I tried to negotiate, Oyston said: “Well that’s it we’ve finished because I’ve tried to renegotiate, we can’t come to an agreement, so you’ll have to work on what you were on last year.”
Eventually, Holloway did manage to sign a new deal with Blackpool, although it seems it was still not what he expected, as he continued: “Was I happy with the new deal I got? No, because we had an argument and he went back on it and he took it to less than it was.
“The fact is, he was brilliant at doing deals. He always said he should be my agent, because he’s better than all the other agents, and he was.
“Oyston would pride himself on how clever he was, and he would word things in such a way that there was always a loophole, which he would always exploit. If me and my agent were good enough we would never have signed it with a loophole.”
Even so, it appears, Holloway was happy working under Oyston, as he claimed: “I have no issue with that in the end because I probably did best under Oyston than I’ve ever done because I never felt threatened in any way. I trusted what he said. He would always say it how it was: blunt and brutal. That’s how our relationship was, that’s how we got on. He was ‘bad cop’ and I was ‘good cop’”
Despite being relegated from the Premier League after just a single season in the top flight, Holloway did not leave Blackpool until the end of the 2011/12 season, although it seems his departure was not due to any disagreement with Oyston, as Holloway revealed: “I’ll always remember it as a good time in my career, whichever club I’ve left I’ve never fought with the owners. I never have and I never will.”
This is an interesting one.
Oyston was never a popular figure during his time at Blackpool, although it seems that did not extend to Holloway himself.
Given what he has said, however, I am slightly surprised about that, as I would have thought that there would have been a huge sense of frustration on Holloway’s part about not being given what he was entitled to during his own spell at Bloomfield Road.
Even so, given what he achieved with Blackpool from a football perspective, you can perhaps understand why that is, especially when you look at the targets that even Oyston himself had set Holloway when he first joined the club.