Interesting times for Blackpool fansGeneral ·
While the football is irrelevant this is still an ‘interesting time’ for fans of Blackpool football club. There are ups and downs but despite their appalling owner, and against a background of continuing legal actions, there is a glimmer of hope. An upcoming meeting with the club provides a way to test how fast this progress will be.
I made my choice a couple of years ago. I want change. Like many other fans I will not go back to Blackpool football club whilst the current owners, the Oyston family, remain in charge. Their actions against the fans, the club and the town are unforgiveable. The Oystons need to go and we need fan ownership to help stop events like these happening again.
A snap, by me, of Blackpool football club 30 minutes before a game. This car park and that stadium used to be full of cars and coaches carrying both home and away fans who spent money in Blackpool.
A couple of weeks back the Blackpool Supporters Trust spoke to Blackpool council about these issues. To put it mildly the response from the leader of Blackpool Council, Simon Blackburn, was gobsmacking. He said that politics and football don’t mix and that his meetings with the Oystons would stay private.
This was surprising. Even if Simon Blackburn is not concerned about the Oyston’s ongoing legal actions and threats against fans; or their failure to invest a £90m windfall earned by the football team back into the football team you would have thought that a council leader would know of the estimated £30m loss to businesses in Blackpool due to the club’s failures. We know that Simon Blackburn has met with the Oyston family. On 19 February we should find out more about these meetings and what Simon Blackburn knows.
Whilst Simon Blackburn is currently failing the town of Blackpool there are signs of progress and real leadership elsewhere.
The Blackpool Supporter’s Trust have got a number of members of parliament to choose to stand by the fans, another local councillor has called for a truce and mediation between the owner and the fans and, after three years of requests!, the football club has finally agreed to meet the fans.
(For some strange reason the football club has decided that as well as the democratically run and nearly 2000-strong Blackpool Supporters Trust and long-standing groups such as BASIL and Yorkshire Seasiders they want to invite another group, the “Fan’s Progress Group” to that meeting.
The “Fan’s Progress Group” is a strange beast. It was set up last year when the club refused to speak to other fans’ groups. The club’s staff personally selected the people who joined it and even then four quit after a single meeting with the chairman, Karl Oyston. Just like the club’s “Supporter Liaison Officer” the group has never held a public meeting to talk with fans. I understand that there are five members left and, judging by polite email exchanges with a couple of them and transcripts of their chats with Karl Oyston, they are significantly out of their depth. Now that the club has (finally!) agreed to meet with the fans’ democratically elected representatives I trust that this infamous five will choose to stop their secret meetings and join their fellow fans in the trust.)
A leech by GlebK. I would like to avoid Jason Manford’s mistake and issue an apology to leeches for the unfortunate analogy before they make a complaint.
The trust wrote last week that there is still a long way to go. This is a risk. The Oystons could try and cling on to the club like a particularly unpleasant leech sucking the blood out of its victim. If the Oystons do this the fans, the club and the town will continue to suffer. The current incarnation of Blackpool football club could even die.
But there is an argument that the Oystons may be keen to go. After all they have an impending court case alleging ‘unfair prejudice against shareholders’; the pressure from politicians will only grow now that they are starting to understand the damage that the Oystons are causing; the Football Assocation have been asked to investigate the club on ethical grounds while we can expect that the Oystons will have yet another round of bad publicity when their company accounts are published at the end of April. That will be unfortunate timing given the club’s need to persuade fans to renew season tickets rather than join the growing boycott. Perhaps the Oystons are listening to fans and are keen to exit after all.
The meeting with the trust provides an excellent opportunity to test this by presenting a rapid way out for the Oystons. I would suggest a short agenda:
- Stopping all legal action against fans and refunding all money gained from legal action against fans.
- Appointing an independent valuer to put a price on the club.
- Timetable for the fans to raise the money and for the Oystons to get out of our club.
If the club accept this agenda and we start to see an exit timetable for the Oystons then that will be real progress for fans. Football will become relevant again and we can go back to being more interested in what happens on the pitch than the failures of the boardroom.
If they don’t accept the agenda then the fans will know that they are in for the long haul and more years of hurt. This may seem daunting but it won’t dampen my resolve.
Like many others I will continue to stand side by side with my fellow Blackpool fans.
I will stick with the Blackpool Supporters Trust.
I will continue to fight.
And one day we will win and we will get our club back.
(If you want to help Blackpool fans then you should join or donate to the Blackpool Supporters Trust and help their campaign to put football first.)