Latvian businessman Valērijs Belokoņs took over as Blackpool FC co-owner and president four years ago and was this season richly rewarded with the club's surprise promotion to the Premier League. The Lancashire outfit finished sixth in the English second flight and earned their place in the top division via defeats of Nottingham Forest FC and Cardiff City FC in the play-offs. Belokoņs spoke to UEFA.com about his emotions surrounding the Tangerines' rise to the top
UEFA.com: Was the play-off final against Cardiff your most emotional experience in football?
Valērijs Belokoņs: Of course, without any doubt. I have never felt like this, so it is hard for me to express my emotions. It is something new and special. We have to wait and then maybe I will be able to explain it. It was really difficult. I have never looked at my watch so often during a game, even though I knew I could not influence the outcome because I was not on the pitch playing. Still, I checked my watch and looked at the scoreboard constantly.
UEFA.com: What were your feelings after the final whistle when Blackpool had earned their place in the Premier League?
Belokoņs: It was a mix of emotions. As I said before, I cannot express them. For a long time we were aiming to reach something unreachable – and then it happens. It is not just about luck, though of course fortune was on our side. We could not achieve something like this just by chance. We must have had something else.
UEFA.com: How did you feel before the game?
Belokoņs: I believed Blackpool could win. Not that we would definitely win, but that we were able to. I remember I did not want us to concede first like in previous games so, when Cardiff scored, I was really disappointed. But I still didn't worry about the result; I thought everything was going as usual.
UEFA.com: What do you think are the main reasons for your success?
Belokoņs: Speaking about last season, I should mention the appointment of Ian Holloway as our head coach. It was the key factor – he was recommended by our chairman Karl Oyston. I trusted him given our previous work together and that's how Holloway was signed. We have a well-structured system at our club. Thanks to our system we do not waste time; we solve all our problems very quickly.
UEFA.com: Hiring Holloway does not seem to have been the only key decision?
Belokoņs: I also want to underline that at my behest we established a fund for signing young players. That was a crucial decision as was proved later, and also something that fitted in perfectly with the manager's plans.
UEFA.com: Did you dream about the Premier League when you bought Blackpool?
Belokoņs: I talked about it immediately. Four years ago I said that during the next five years Blackpool have to reach the Premier League. Many were sceptical and smirked because, for many, the only way to get to the top division is through heavy investment. But we proved that the main thing is to believe you can do it.
UEFA.com: Blackpool return to the top flight after 39 years...
Belokoņs: Of course, it is a big event in our town. People are proud of us. We proved we were capable of big things. You don't have to be in London, Manchester or Liverpool to be a success. Blackpool are a great example to other small towns in the country. Money is not everything – Blackpool have proved it.
UEFA.com: Is the Premier League a whole new level?
Belokoņs: Certainly. This is a competition where you cannot afford a single mistake. The one who makes fewest mistakes wins. The Premier League is packed with top-class professionals so we have to analyse our mistakes. We need to do this and think about it even while we celebrate our success.
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