“My message is simple – judge us at the end of the season.”
Those were the now infamous words of Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston when asked about the worst start to a season in the club’s history.
No-one connected with this proud club is willing to wait until May. The judgement comes now – a month before the season’s end – and the simple fact is the club’s owners have failed the supporters. The fact the Seasiders are the first of 92 League clubs to be relegated says it all, and it’s totally deserved.
Nine years ago, Blackpool were a well established League One club with very few, if any, expectations or dreams of success.
With the help of an incredible manager, group of players and a nudge from Latvia, Blackpool achieved the impossible dream – the club won the lottery.
And while people say lottery wins won’t change them, they always do. In fact, Oyston himself suggested as much in the tunnel at Wembley in 2010, – when Pool won promotion to the promised land of the Premier League, and he declared: “This win will change the club forever.”
A training ground, better infrastructure and a long-term plan to reinvest the Premier League millions into the club should have been fired into action. None of these occurred. Instead, after an initial go at promotion under Ian Holloway, Blackpool now appear to have given up.
Apart from the extension of the stadium at Bloomfield Road, including, of course, the much-discussed BFC Hotel, if anything the structure of the club is worse.
As we speak, the club president claims he’s ignored, the chairman is facing a possible lengthy ban from football, there’s no general manager and the club secretary is doubling up as kitman. You really couldn’t make it up.
So where did it go wrong?
Well, this isn’t an overnight issue. This season’s failure is the consequence of poor decision-making which has blighted the on-field performance.
Since Holloway’s departure, the Seasiders have had five managers inside three seasons. They have faced relegation battles in their previous two seasons and have won just seven of their last 70 games. The warning signs were there but appear to have been totally ignored.
Last summer proved a prime example, as Oyston boasted that having only five players going into the close-season would put the club in a strong position. The recruitment policy has failed so dreadfully. The club have fielded 51 players so far this season.
Now is the time we’d like to hear the chairman’s thoughts, explanations and maybe even an apology for this mess. More importantly, we’d like to hear his future plans. He has decided a media silence is the best policy.
Many supporters have called for the Oyston family to leave the club, and considering the mess the football team is in, it really is hard to argue against their view.
Announcements of £9m profits and the offer of cheap season tickets can never make up for the grim reality – Pool have gone from everyone’s favourite underdogs to football’s laughing stock. No wonder fans have labelled the situation shameful.
Yesterday, Blackpool FC sadly got what they deserved – relegated. Their fans deserve so much better.