Blackpool chief executive Alex Cowdy’s new column

Alex Cowdy
Alex Cowdy

Gary Bowyer had immediately pinpointed areas where he felt we needed to strengthen over the summer, with seven new faces arriving prior to the start of August.

We were keen to recruit early in order for Gary to have as many pieces of the jigsaw in place for pre-season. Gary highlighted players he wanted to sign and I negotiated with them and their representatives to get the deals done.

Transfer deadline day saw the arrival of our final player in goalkeeper Dean Lyness, who had spent a period on loan with the club last season.

Gary, myself and the back room staff continued to work diligently on potential targets up until the close of the window, though the available options on deadline day wouldn’t have strengthened the squad.

There were developments around 9pm in the evening, though, when I received a call from Dunfermline wanting to take John Herron on loan until January.

Cue a mad dash to get the paperwork drafted, signed and submitted before the midnight deadline in Scotland. Everything was submitted and approved with about 20 minutes to spare!

Young full-back Macauley Wilson had gone out on loan to Bamber Bridge days earlier, allowing him to continue his development.

The scrapping of the emergency loan window by FIFA means all league loans must now run from window to window. However the option to loan out other young players to non-league clubs remains.

By the close of the transfer window, we had brought in 12 new players, a number of whom turned down deals elsewhere to sign for the club.

Away from the pitch, every member of the squad has been out supporting Community Trust projects in the opening weeks of the eason, with visits to sports camps proving extremely popular. Almost 700 children across the Fylde coast attended sports camps at three venues, as well as an inclusion camp in St Annes.

We’ve also had Nickelodeon down filming light-hearted challenges with the players for TV show Nick Kicks. The programme covers all 72 clubs in the EFL and helps bring football outside the Premier League to a younger audience.

Sticking with youth, Ciaran Donnelly’s side travelled to the Netherlands for a pre-season tour funded by Erasmus+, an EU programme for education, training, youth and sport.

In conjunction with the LFE (League Football Education), the trip saw our under-18s train under the guidance of Sparta Rotterdam coaches, visit the Amsterdam Arena and face two under-19 Eredivisie clubs, as well as German side VFL Osnabruck.

The highlight of the trip was a last-gasp victory against FC Utrecht’s under-19s.

The tour resulted in the under-18s kicking off their season slightly later than other youth alliance sides but they opened with a 5-0 win away to Fleetwood Town.

We have nine new scholars

in the youth set-up, seven of those coming

through the club’s academy system.

The scholars are now based at Bloomfield Road alongside the first-team and train at Squires Gate, while the academy sides have relocated to Myerscough College.

Finally, it was great to welcome Cheung Chi Doy back to Bloomfield Road as a special guest for the match against Plymouth Argyle. Cheung hadn’t returned to Blackpool since leaving the club in 1962, so it was fantastic to see him meet up with ex-team-mates, including Jimmy Armfield.