Furious Blackpool FC fans today delivered their damning verdict on a shambolic season after being relegated from the Championship, telling chairman Karl Oyston: “There is no excuse.”
Back in the summer, Oyston defended the embarrassing state of affairs at Bloomfield Road by telling supporters: “Judge us at the end of the season.”
But, with six games still to go before the curtain comes down on a torrid campaign, what most fans have been expecting for months became a certainty – the Seasiders will be playing in League One come August.
And today the fans returned their verdict on the Oystons, saying: “This is simply not good enough.”
When Rotherham beat Brighton 1-0 last night, the last glimmer of hope for the season was extinguished as Pool became the first Football League club to be relegated this season.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust called it a “shameful” situation that should never have been allowed to happen.
Fans have branded the situation “unacceptable” and said it is time for Oyston to follow up his words with actions.
Back in August, the chairman wrote in The Gazette to address fans’ concerns over the lack of players that led to a pre-season tour being cancelled and the club naming five trialists in the starting 11 for one of their friendly matches.
He wrote: “We’ve had a summer which hasn’t been ideal but I’m drawing no conclusions based on where we are now. We will see at the end of the season whether or not this has worked.”
He pledged to change how the club operates and “go back to the things we did well in the past”.
He also spoke of addressing criticisms of Pool’s style of football, saying: “We want our team to entertain our supporters, win or lose.”
But Blackpool Supporters’ Trust said the low attendances at recent games show fans are not being entertained but are “voting with their feet”.
Christine Seddon, spokesman for the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, said: “There should be a legacy from that incredible journey to the Premier League.
“We’re not in that situation. It’s shameful and it shouldn’t have happened.
“We were relegated before we kicked a ball.
“There is no excuse for us to be in this situation. This is simply not good enough.
“There is no proper planning or looking to the future.
“In the short-term it is cheap but how are we going to improve if we don’t invest?”
“Why has this happened?
“Are we just not important enough to them (the Oystons) anymore or is it just staggering incompetence? I can’t think of a third option.”
She called for the Oystons to open talks with the trust and let fans have their input into the way the club is run.
She added: “If they are not willing to listen to the fans and do the right thing, we need to make it obvious that we are not willing to accept this.
“Fans are already voting with their feet and I think we will see more and more of that.
“You can’t run a football club without any customers.
“I’m afraid talk is cheap – coming out in pre-season again as has happened before, nobody is going to believe it any more.
“It will take a lot more than words to convince fans this time they mean to change.”
But while fans blasted the chairman for a “short-term” approach, Pool legend Jimmy Armfield said: “There is no point in looking back.”
He echoed fans’ calls for investment and urged the players to end the season on a high.
He said the next six games – starting at home to Reading tonight – could play a vital role in how next season’s League One campaign goes.
He told The Gazette: “I think we have expected it (relegation) for a while.
“The club has been managing the business to that effect and I don’t think supporters are surprised.
“The important thing now is to move on.
“But they have got to get through the season first – I think between now and the end of the season is very important.
“They have got to do well this season. Just getting through it is not enough. Then it’s about preparing. Everybody knows there will have to be some investment and it goes on from there.”
The views of the supporters trust were, last night, echoed on social media, where fans were quick to criticise the Oystons.
Writing on Twitter, one user, Wez Bagot, posted: “The club owners need to have a long hard look at how they are running it and make changes.”
Ian Brookes said the season was a “failure”, telling Oyston: “You have been judged.”
Andy Davies wrote: “Relegation is not new to us but the events of this season have set an all time low.”
Reasoned View said on www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk: “The writing was on the wall well before we’d even heard of Jose Riga and we were very lucky to survive last season.”
Tangerine Army added: “(Karl Oyston) said in 2014, we are the envy of all the Football League – I’m sure you meant the laughing stock.
“One thing for sure you won’t be making a penny out of me ever again.”
On Twitter, @walshybfc said: “No one in their right mind would run a football club in the way the Oystons do. They need to go and soon as possible.”
Peter Wells said: “The fans have done their utmost the last 18 months – those in authority have failed to listen and act.”
And Pool fan Dan Franks added: “We should have gone down last season if we are all honest. We will keep on falling until that family leave.”