Karl Samuel Oyston (born 20 February 1968) is an English businessman and chairman of Blackpool Football Club. Oyston took over the chairmanship at Blackpool from his mother, Vicki Oyston, in 1999. Mrs Oyston had taken over three years earlier when her husband Owen, Karl’s father, was jailed for six years in 1996 for rape and indecent assault. The Sunday Times Rich List lists the Oystons’ wealth at £100M, making them the 863rd-richest in the country, down from 759th in 2008.
At the time of Karl Oyston’s appointment, Blackpool were in the third tier of the Football League. At the end of the following 1999–2000 campaign, they were relegated to the bottom tier. At the first time of asking, they returned to the Second Division, where they remained for the next six seasons. In 2007 they were promoted to the second tier. Three years later, after financial backing from new club president Valeri Belokon, Blackpool were, for the first time, promoted to the Premier League. After this promotion, Belokon was frozen out of day-to-day involvement, he claims because the Oystons no longer needed his financial backing. Blackpool remained in the top tier for one campaign, and after failing to return from the Championship at the first attempt, they have finished no higher than 15th, with Oyston employing four different managers since 2013. In 2015, Blackpool were relegated to the third tier for the first time since 2007. The following season saw a second-successive relegation, to the bottom tier of English professional football for the first time in fifteen years.
Oyston has had a poor relationship with Blackpool’s fans, mostly since the club’s relegation from the Premier League, due to a perceived lack of funding for the club’s stadium, playing staff and training ground. The relationship was described as being “at breaking point” by Tim Fielding, the chair of the Blackpool Supporters Trust, in December 2014. Fielding resigned from his position the following month after the Oystons began legal action against him for comments he made on the internet, even though it was revealed that Karl Oyston had labelled Blackpool fan Stephen Smith a “massive retard” and an “intellectual cripple” in a text-message exchange two months earlier. The local newspaper, the Blackpool Gazette, subsequently decided to scrap Oyston’s weekly column “given such disgusting and offensive comments”. He was later charged with misconduct by the Football Association, a charge he appealed. The appeal was rejected by a tribunal, and he was given a ban from all footballing activities for six weeks and fined £40,000.