Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston has apologised for abusing a supporter with text messages that included discriminatory remarks regarding disabled people.
The Tangerines chief has been urged to resign by the club's supporters' trust following the messages to fan Steve Smith, who he labelled "a retard" and a "intellectual cripple". The Football Association is also investigating the incident.
But in a belated display of remorse, Oyston has expressed regret for the messages he claims were in reaction to a succession of personal texts after his mobile number was posted on to an online fans' forum.
"I would like to unreservedly apologise for any offence or distress caused by my text responses reported in the media recently," he said. "I regret stooping to the level of those threatening and abusing my family.
"My mobile number was placed on a social media website recently and it led to a barrage of abuse about my mother, father, wife, children and myself. In hindsight, the aim of this was clear and I foolishly opted to challenge some of the abuse, harassment and threats.
"Given my position, I should have acted with more responsibility and reported the abusive text messages, phone calls and answerphone messages to the police, rather than get embroiled in such an exchange."
Mencap critical of chairman's actions
The Championship club, who lost 6-1 to AFC Bournemouth at Bloomfield Road on Saturday 20 December, have come under fire from disability charity Mencap, whose representatives Ismail Kaji and Leroy Binns said: "A lot of people with a learning disability, like me, are passionate football supporters.
"I would feel ashamed however to support any football club that has a chairman who uses such disgusting language to people with a disability. This language is just as bad as using racist or homophobic words.
"There is no difference and it makes me sick. Someone with a high profile should act as a role model, not needlessly insult the people that look up to them."
In reaction to the statement, Oyston added: "At Blackpool FC we pride ourselves on our work in the community, and I wouldn't want my unacceptable comments to detract from the fantastic work being done by our Community Trust.
"The Community Trust works with a number of organisations to support making as many opportunities for people with disabilities, including Warren Manor Day Care Centre, Age UK, the Wheelchair Football Association and Sport England, as well as special schools on the Fylde Coast.
"As such, I will be making a donation to the Community Trust to assist in the continued funding of these projects."
Blackpool Supporters' Trust want Karl Oyston to leave
Blackpool Supporters' Trust, who have this season been campaigning against Oyston's haphazard reign in charge, with the club currently rock-bottom of the Championship, have demanded the chairman step down.
Tim Fielding, chairman of the BST, said: "To say it is a shock of what has been written is an understatement. You have to question what he is thinking about.
"We live in an age where discrimination isn't meant to be tolerated and those types of comments have no place in decent society.
"We would support the Oystons if they could run the club in a responsible manner but recent evidence suggests they are not able to do so.
"I am astonished, really. It's quite remarkable. For the owner of a football club to say that is bad judgment.
"He is a flag-bearer for the town, for the club and the community. If anyone at my work had said those comments they would have been bounced straight out of the door. It's a sad day for Blackpool Football Club."