Entrepreneur rules himself out of bidding for Blackpool

FYLDE-based entrepreneur David Haythornthwaite, who has twice tried to buy troubled football club Blackpool, has vowed there will be no third attempt.

The 61-year-old owner of Lytham St Annes-based Tangerine Group made bids for the club in 1998 and 2005, but current owners the Oyston family would not sell.

Meanwhile, Haythornthwaite has grown his company, which has three divisions specialising in veterinary, farming and equine products, including 11 limited companies and wholly owned subsidiaries in Ireland, Spain and Germany, into a £19.5m turnover enterprise.

But he has also thrown his business weight behind Vanarame Northern Conference League football club AFC Fylde, investing in an £18m 6,000 seater stadium at Mill Farm Sports Village.

However, Haythornthwaite is a lifelong Blackpool fan and he said he saddened to see the trauma the club, which finished bottom of the Championship last season, is now going through.

Yesterday, the BBC reported that Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston had rejected an attempt by current president and shareholder Valeri Belokon to  buy the football assets and secure the stadium on a long-term lease.

In the background, supporters of the Tangerines have been involved in demonstrations, match boycotts and social media campaigns over the way Oyston family have been running the club.

And in online forums, supporters have voiced their desire for Haythornthwaite to make another bid to buy the club after which he named his company.

But  Haythornthwaite says the passion he once had for Blackpool was directed to his new football club venture, AFC Fylde.

He told TheBusinessDesk.com: “There’s an old saying – ‘how do you turn a large fortune into a small fortune? – buy a football club’.

“But I was never put off by any of that. I think that all successful business people, in general, will tell you that money doesn’t actually get them out of bed. And it doesn’t get me out of bed.

“I think people who build businesses actually get their motivation from the process of building the company. It’s a challenge – it’s taking on all those people who said ‘you can’t do it, you’ll never make it’.

“It was like that when I said we would turn AFC Fylde into a Football League Club by 2022. People laughed, which made me more determined to do it.

“I  am a Blackpool fan, that’s why I named my company Tangerine. My father was a Blackpool fan. I watched them through all the years and went to Torquay on a Tuesday night, Darlington and where ever.

“I tried to buy the club twice. But as we all know, the Oystons wouldn’t sell.

“But I just felt that the direction of the club. Wasn’t right. I was a box holder the club didn’t seem to care at all about customer service. They didn’t understand how to look after football fans.
“You have to be a football person to understand what goes through the mind of a fan. You’ve got to be careful you don’t let that emotion run away with you when it comes to spending and buying players. But you need to understand football.

“It was 2007, when I first got involved with Fylde. But I don’t’ regret it at all.

“If you go on the Blackpool forums there’s a lot  of people saying Haythornthwaite, needs to come back and take over.

“The Blackpool fans think I will go back and take over, and my daughter said ‘but Blackpool it’s a lot bigger club’.

“But it doesn’t interest me at all. I’m just as passionate about Fylde now as I was about Blackpool. That’s my job now. Only football fans know that passion.”