Danny Hall Column: Future isn’t bright under Karl Oyston, lay off Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling... and Masters champ Jordan Spieth shows he’s one of the good guys of golf

Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston

Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston

  • Blackpool fans are about as keen on chairman Karl Oyston, as he is on them
  • Furore surrounding Raheem Sterling’s shisha ‘scandal’ is a fuss about nothing
  • Jordan Spieth’s Masters win was a exhibition of class and composure
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In the context of a poisonous, reciprocated hatred between owners and fans, a messy relegation and the club chairman branding a fan a ‘retard’, it seems hardly significant.

But the story earlier this week of Blackpool goalkeeper Joe Lewis having to take to the field in an autographed shirt, which had been set aside for a sponsor, spoke volumes about life at Bloomfield Road.

Not that Blackpool fans will be surprised by the revelation, from Andrea Orlandi’s column for a Spanish website. They have, after all, spent large parts of the season protesting against Karl Oyston, the chairman who is under investigation by the FA for his fan attack.

[Oyston exchanged a series of texts with the supporter, calling him a pr**k and telling him to enjoy his ‘special needs day out’ at Bloomfield Road. He did later apologise].

Supporters resorted to throwing hundreds of tennis balls onto the club’s shocking pitch; Oyston and his family responded with photos of them holding tennis rackets. His riposte to their frequent ‘Oyston Out’ chants was to get a private ‘OY51 OUT’ registration plate for his Range Rover. He posed happily, provocatively, in-front of a ‘Cash Cow’ banner and began legal proceedings against the head of a fan’s group.

For a professional football club, which existed in the second tier of English football until their recent relegation, to exist in this way is as extraordinary as it is disgraceful.

They’ve won seven times in 70 games. They failed to pay a £221 business rates bill for their training ground last month. They have no kitman and the secretary filling in on that job, Chris Hough, was outed recently for posting an offensive message about singer Rita Ora on his Facebook page.

Even Wonga, the payday loans company hardly renowned for its moral fibre, has elected not to continue its association with a club which, just four years ago, sat at the top table of English football.

They began the season with eight players and, having won just four games from 42, will begin the new season in League One. There is no guarantee that they will ever come back.

Look just up the road from Blackpool where Sheikh Mansour has transformed Manchester City’s fortunes, and has committed £1billion to Manchester Council to regenerate parts of the city.

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling

Life at Bloomfield Road, under Englishman Karl and his owner father Owen, is altogether rather different.

“Foreign owners” in football get a bad rep, but ask yourself this; who would you rather have in charge?

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It’s been a good week for the easily-outraged amongst us; especially those of a sporting persuasion, usually found spouting off in the comments section of the Daily Mail.

Spieth normally brings his autistic sister home a key-chain from every place he visits, as a professional golfer on the tour. This time, he brought her home the Masters title. They say money can’t buy class... luckily, in the case of Jordan Spieth, it doesn’t have to.

First, Liverpool and England star Raheem Sterling was caught, pictured and ‘shamed’ online smoking a shisha pipe on a night out in London. ‘Fresh controversy’, apparently, surfaced when another picture emerged, of Sterling smoking alongside Liverpool team-mate Jordon Ibe.

Around the time Sterling was answering his growing number of critics with a well-taken goal in Liverpool’s victory over Newcastle, another ‘social media storm’ began surrounding Manchester City women’s footballer Toni Duggan, who was forced to issue a contrite apology. Her crime? Posting a photograph to Instagram of her, City team-mate Isobel Christiansen and Everton star Michelle Hinnigan with Louis van Gaal, the Manchester United manager.

Duggan had barely pressed ‘send’ before the abuse began. A stream of sexist messages followed; some even called for her to be sacked. One fan wrote: “My dead nan is better than you at football. Leave.”

Duggan, an England women’s international, is not a Manchester City fan; she is from Liverpool. One can also safely assume she is a football fan, too. But ‘football fan caught taking selfie with decorated football manager’ hardly captures the imagination, does it?

Neither does ‘20-year-old young man smokes shisha on a night out with 19-year-old friend’. Sterling and Ibe were hardly caught snorting lines of cocaine or buying MDMA.

My favourite headline of the affair read ‘Brendan Rodgers questions Raheem Sterling’s professionalism after nitrous oxide controversy’, before including a quote from the Liverpool boss: “I know he [Sterling] is super-professional, but young players will make mistakes and as long as they learn from them, that’s the main thing.”

Masters champion Jordan Spieth

Masters champion Jordan Spieth

Couldn’t have put it better myself, Brendan. Give the kid a break, eh?

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A strange thing happened at the weekend; this columnist watched some golf and, even more startlingly, enjoyed it.

Forget the ‘golf is a good walk spoiled’ rubbish; the Masters conclusion was pure sporting drama, even though Jordan Spieth’s remarkable victory was really rubber stamped long before he made the emotional walk up the 18th hole to a rapturous reception.

This was an exhibition of Phil Mickelson’s longevity and temperament; Rory McIlroy exercising a few Augusta demons and Tiger Woods showing the world that, actually, he’s still pretty decent with a bit of graphite and titanium in his hand, even after an extended sabbatical.

But it was Spieth’s display of both class and character which caught the eye. He’d led overnight, too, and tried to relax overnight by watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall, whilst trying at the same time to forget he was on the brink of achieving a childhood dream.

His mask slipped slightly on the final round when he sliced a drive and muttered under his breath; ‘oh dear’. But thanks to the calming influence of caddy Michael Greller - a former schoolteacher who has a remarkable story of his own - Spieth remained 18 under and grabbed that green jacket with both hands.

He later revealed his 14-year-old sister Ellie, who has autism, is his inspiration.

“I wish she could have been here,” the likeable 21-year-old Texan said.

“I love having her around. She’s an incredible sister, my biggest supporter. She is somebody who you can watch and then reflect on the big picture of life and understand that all these frustrations in a day, or in a round of golf, are really secondary.

“We wouldn’t have that realisation without her.”

Spieth normally brings his sister home a key-chain from every place he visits, as a professional golfer on the tour. This time, he brought her home the Masters title.

They say money can’t buy class.

Luckily, in the case of Jordan Spieth, it doesn’t have to.