Gazette Viewpoint: What hope for Pool’s loyal fans?

Jose Riga and Blackpool's depleted squad at Squires Gate training ground for pre-season training

Jose Riga and Blackpool's depleted squad at Squires Gate training ground for pre-season training

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It is shameful to see how Blackpool FC, the proud and historic club which once boasted such legends as Matthews, Mortensen, Armfield and Ball – and let’s not forget Premier League football three years ago – has been reduced to this.

As The Gazette’s man at Bloomfield Road William Watt has reported in full over the last few turmoil-filled weeks, the Seasiders have lurched from one crisis to another.

The horrendous facts are the club has just eight players, no back-room staff, one pre-season friendly and little more than three weeks until the start of the new season.

To say things are getting desperate is a total understatement.

Promised a ‘Riga Revolution’ and a totally new way of doing things at Bloomfield Road, more than 8,000 fans kept the faith by renewing their season tickets for the coming season.

They have sunk their hard-earned cash into a club they love, a club whose owners told us they had learned the painful lessons of the recent past. But have they?

Fans who have stuck through thick and thin have every right to ask when their loyalty will be rewarded.

The club has gleaned millions in parachute payments and transfer fees over recent years and for what?

Financial stability, granted, but what about the things that draw fans every week... football, excitement, entertainment, hope?

Eight players rattling around an antiquated training ground and now even a pre-season tour of Spain has been cancelled due to a lack of players.

It’s hardly the stuff to make anyone else buy a season ticket, in fact, it’s more likely to have hoards demanding a refund – and who the hell could blame them?

If this was a North Pier show people would have walked out by now.

But it’s not, this is a football club, that strangest of beasts which enters the very soul of its fans and one which usually has them for life.

Yes, there are three weeks still to go until the start of the new season but anyone will tell you that to try and build a whole new side in that time is tantamount to lunacy.

And that is why what is happening at Bloomfield Road right now appears to be nothing short of an unmitigated mess.

We hear clear-the-air-talks have now taken place between chairman Karl Oyston and manager Jose Riga (full report see today’s Gazette).

Given this is now crisis point – it must surely be followed by real positive action in the transfer market and a bus load of new faces arriving.

Secondly, the chairman and the whole of Blackpool FC need to have a serious look at what direction they want the club to go in. Fans are being told one thing –promises of proper squad building and a new training ground – and yet the reality always seems to be something very different.

Given the wreckage which has befallen some big clubs, head-over-heart financial prudence in running a football business is vital, but so is giving fans – your paying public – not only value for money but a club to be proud of.

Clearly only urgent action is going to begin to address this situation. The fans of this wonderful old club deserve better and they deserve that now.

Jon Rhodes