Blackpool fans group votes out ‘Parliament’

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Blackpool’s Fans Parliament initiative has been criticised by a supporters’ group as undemocratic and an attempt to stifle free speech.

The club invited applications for its new fans’ panel and a shortlist of 20 candidates is under consideration. The Parliament will be able to appoint a representative to attend board meetings.

Jimmy Armfield, Trevor Sinclair and Rev Michael Ward have agreed to take part in the selection process, with Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden potentially involved too.

But Blackpool Supporters Trust have slammed the idea, calling for a “truly democratic and representative body”.

BST, which hopes to reveal its plans to buy the club from the Oyston family next week, have issued a statement on the Fans Parliament.

It reads: “BST wrote to the Oystons a month ago expressing significant reservations about the proposals and outlining six principles which would need to be met in order for the Trust to endorse the plan.

“We maintain that any Fans Parliament needs to be a truly democratic and representative body. Our proposals, had they been implemented, might have allowed a process of reconciliation to begin.

“It seems clear that the purpose of the Fans Parliament is to benefit the Oystons rather than the supporters or even the football club. On the face of it, the Fans Parliament provides an obvious and clear indication to the Football League, the FA, the media, potential sponsors and even some fans that the Oystons are committed to consultation with the club’s supporters.

“In reality, rather than being a way to improve communication and give fans a voice, the Fans Parliament will be a means of preventing the fans expressing an independent view and exerting real power at the club.

“It is hard to understand the Fans Parliament as being anything other than a poorly disguised means to circumvent and undermine any attempts to achieve the structural changes that are required in the way the club is run.”

The Fans Parliament is an attempt by the club to re-engage with fans after the longstanding official supporters’ club, BSA, broke off discussions with the owners last season.