Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton says he would be “surprised” if his boss and club owner Andy Pilley launched a sensational takeover of Fylde coast neighbours Blackpool FC.
The Daily Mail reported this week that Town chairman Pilley is among those to have registered a serious interest in purchasing Blackpool, which is up for sale following the appointment of a court receiver.
The Gazette’s Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton wrote: “The Gazette understands Pilley is indeed considering a bid but the Fleetwood owner has to find a way to sell the Highbury club.
“This could complicate the process as receiver Paul Cooper is attempting to sell Blackpool FC in the space of two or three months, a timeframe that gives Pilley little time.”
The Gazette has been unsuccessful in contacting Pilley for comment but Barton was in a jovial mood when asked about the speculation.
Asked if he was concerned about reports linking Pilley with Blackpool, Barton answered, “No,” and joked: “I wondered why he asked me if I wanted to buy Fleetwood off him last week.
“We are trying to work out a payment structure. We have not quite thrashed a deal out on that, so we have a bit of negotiating to do this afternoon.”
More seriously, he added: “I don’t know. For me, if he wants to buy Blackpool, then no problem.
“That is news to me. I’d be surprised knowing how passionate he is about this football club and the trajectory that we expect to go on.
“But you never say never in football. You never know.”
Asked if he had received any assurances from Pilley, Barton said: “No, I would not seek assurances.
“He is a businessman. I don’t ask him if he is doing takeovers in his energy sector and I would not ask him if he is doing takeovers in his football sector.
“He is my boss. Unfortunately I do not get to question my boss .... I might drop it into the conversation!”
But Barton did stress that without BES Utilities owner Pilley’s drive and chief executive Steve Curwood’s work there would be no football club.
Pilley has pumped millions into the club since taking over in 2004, with Town rising from the West Lancashire League to the third tier of English football.
And speaking from the club’s £10m Poolfoot Farm training base, Barton stressed the importance of Pilley, with club accounts showing that Fleetwood Town is heavily reliant on the businessman’s input.
When asked how important Pilley’s drive is to the club, Barton said: “It is huge.You need people who firstly are passionate enough but also have enough self-belief too make things like this happen.
“Fleetwood should not be playing against Sunderland (who they beat 2-1 on Tuesday). They just should not be doing it. Fleetwood should not be sitting comfortably in League One.
“They should not have a fantastic training facility. They should not have an emerging and exciting youth academy because there are a lot bigger clubs with a lot longer tradition and history out there who have had wealthy benefactors in the past.
“But they are because of the team behind the scenes. Andy is the leader of the club.
“He is the energy of not only this football club but many other businesses.
“He has a strong lieutenants on the football side in Steve Curwood.
“We are tasked with the footballing side of it but without their drive and initiative there would be no football team.”