Fans Progress Group meet Oyston and McDonald

Karl Oyston watches a recent game at Bloomfield Road
Karl Oyston watches a recent game at Bloomfield Road
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Karl Oyston was joined by manager Neil McDonald to face the newly formed Fans Progress Group at a meeting held at Bloomfield Road last week.

Here we pick some of the key points.

First team performance

FPG asked NM: What’s your plan to improve the team’s competitiveness and how does the club plan to reverse the team’s falling league position?

NM said: In my opinion many performances have deserved a better points return than we’ve got, we’ve got a points target in mind to establish a consistent run of form. The main way to improve competitiveness is through recruitment bringing in better players for every position, and that while systems and formations can be changed and we need to find the right balance between a passing and a longer ball game, but we have players who can adjust. Relegated clubs often have difficulties recruiting new players following relegation, our summer recruitment was decent enough considering the bad press. January targets have been submitted with a mix of younger and more experienced players and the process is underway with Nick Alford the Club Secretary and Karl. The players we bring in have to be able to go straight into the first team to strengthen it and not just come as squad players, we intend to replace and let 2 or 3 players leave, and hopefully add a few more as well.

KO said: The targets are realistic and players I intend to try and recruit to strengthen the first team, we aim to ensure we have a sufficient number of players whose contracts don’t expire before the start of next season, to provide continuity and a stable platform to work from. As I’ve previously said player contracts are now typically two years with a third year option, but that depends upon the player’s age and specifics, every deal is different.

FPG asked for a more specific figure on the amount of intended January 2016 transfer targets.

NM said: 19 new players in the summer was a big turnaround, we’ve so far run with a tight squad.

The priority in January are permanent signings, not loans, because I’m trying to work six months ahead, knowing the loan rule changes next season. I hope to recruit at least three, but I’d be happier with up to five.

FPG asked NM: Given you recently stated that you believe off the field issues are affecting player recruitment, and that some clubs don’t want to loan players to us, how does the club plan to

overcome these issues ?

NM said: Recent pitch invasions and protests hadn’t helped, a Premier League player had read about the troubles at the club and was put off. It’s up to me to convince players to come to

Blackpool, I’m selling the club by demonstrating how the players we’ve brought in have done well on loan recently, and that Blackpool is still a big club to play for, the players we’ve attracted so far really wanted the challenge of playing for Blackpool.

Legal Actions and club issues

FPG asked: Can you provide us with an update on the legal actions being taken?

KO said: Action against 5 Live for comments made by a Premier League player has finished following an apology from the player.

There’s police action being taken against seven people who weren’t identified on the club’s supporter database for the attack on the directors’ box, two have been dealt with and received banning orders, whilst five others have pleaded not guilty and are due to appear in court.

KO also said: Two other individuals have been charged by the Police with the criminal charge of harassment, while three cautions for harassment have been issued by the Police. In addition there’s an ongoing civil case between the club and another supporter.

KO also said: The pitch invaders will be offered an amnesty, subject to signing an acceptable behaviour order. However, we are waiting for a Police report following the Huddersfield pitch

invasion which is expected within the next 2-3 weeks that may result in further actions being taken.

FPG asked: Could the £40,000 damages be waived from David Ragozzino ?

KO said: No it wouldn’t although the actual figure is £100,000, some of the abuse was vile, in person and on email and text.

He’s lost his job because of emails sent from work accounts, and several attempts to settle were rejected by him.

KO also said: Another person’s claims that I’d produced a gun during a confrontation were proven false by CCTV evidence.

FPG asked NM: What are the players’ thoughts on the situation at the club at the moment?

NM said: I’ve tried to create a bubble and a siege mentality, if supporters aren’t happy the squad have got to try and make them happy, but everyone gets abused when it doesn’t go right. There’s been no trouble at all with the players and they’ve tried not to make excuses.

Club ownership and supporter groups

FPG asked: What is the clubs position with regards to the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust offer to take ownership of the club ?

KO said: There wasn’t an offer but an invitation to give the football club, Segesta limited and all cash balances to BST which is valued at £32m. They admitted they had no money of their own and we asked them to provide further information and reasonable answers, but the club wasn’t given sufficient details nor introduced to any of BST’s professional advisers, we were genuinely concerned for the long-term future of the club, had it been handed to BST, therefore the approach is rejected.

FPG asked for an update on Valeri Belokon, but KO confirmed there was nothing to report at this time.

FPG said to KO: We are still trying to encourage you to have dialogue with other supporter groups.

KO said: The FPG is a way and means for all supporters and supporter groups of suggesting improvement and change where needed, the FPG’s Chairman is invited to attend board meetings,

and is treated as if he’s a director and has been provided with a board pack, including an agenda and financial statements for the forthcoming meeting. Any reasonable requests made by the BSA to the club will be facilitated were possible, but there won’t be a direct relationship with any other supporter group, other than the FPG.

Facilities

FPG asked for a progress update on the new training ground work.

KO said: We are expecting a planning decision imminently, the asbestos has been removed professionally and once planning consent is received the existing buildings will be knocked down, construction work will be broken down into sub-contract packages and will start soon

FPG asked: When do hope to be able to complete the work ?

KO said: The aim is for all the work to be finished for the start of training 2016.

FPG asked: Are there any implications for the East Stand given planning consent expired November 2015 ?

KO said: There are no issues to be concerned about, a current safety certificate exists and the stand remains available when needed.

Supporter
ownership

FPG asked: Would the club consider future part-supporter ownership of the club through the issue of shares to those who purchase season tickets?

This may promote season ticket sales, reward supporters and build community and supporter relations, providing supporters with a greater sense of involvement and ownership of their club.

KO said: I’d be concerned about the ability of all supporters to contribute to losses or fund cash calls in order to support the team manager.

Supporter ownership can take the form of shaping policy, which is what the FPG is about, and devolving power on the FPG to make decisions on behalf of the supporters.

FPG said: The club seems to be in a period of falling attendances, and next season we could lose more supporters.

KO said: If this were the case I’d have to reluctantly adjust budgets to compensate to ensure the club doesn’t lose money, but I’d hope this could be avoided.

FPG said: We believe the issue of free shares with a season ticket could have a very positive effect for the club including the generation of further income through increased season ticket sales and developing positive supporter relations.

KO said: I’ll get the company secretary to run an exercise to find out how many shareholders are active season ticket holders before we discuss it further.

FPG said: OK get the company secretary to carry out the exercise but we’re sceptical about what it would achieve as it may be likely that current shareholders purchased shares for financial benefit only.