Blackpool 'desperate' to welcome fans back says Neil Critchley after unbelievable year

Neil Critchley says Blackpool are desperate for fans to return to Bloomfield Road – a year since the stadium was last fully open.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:24 pm

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Today marks 12 months since the Seasiders hosted Tranmere Rovers in front of a crowd of 8,235.

Since then, all of Blackpool’s home games have been played behind closed doors due to the pandemic, barring September’s test event which saw 1,000 fans make a brief return.

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A thousand spectators attended the 'test' fixture against Swindon Town in September - the only time in the last 12 months that any supporters have been allowed into Bloomfield Road

“The time flies, doesn’t it? It’s unbelievable that it’s a year ago,” Critchley told The Gazette.

“We played Tranmere on the Tuesday night and we were due to play Sunderland on Saturday only for the season to be suspended the day before.

“I remember that night against Tranmere really well. We lost but the support we had, I couldn’t believe it.

“We were losing 2-0 and we lost 2-1 but the support was so uplifting, particularly in the second half when we were kicking towards the North Stand. We were on top and we got a goal back.

“Unfortunately we’ve not been able to share those moments again. Football hasn’t been the same and it won’t be the same until supporters are back.

“We all want it back sooner rather than later and I’m sure the supporters are desperate to come back to Bloomfield Road. We’re desperate to have them back.”

Critchley believes Pool’s fans were especially missed last weekend.

That saw his side pegged back in the third minute of stoppage time in drawing 1-1 against AFC Wimbledon.

“They 100 per cent would have made a difference,” he added.

“The supporters give you that extra one or two per cent when your heart is pounding out of your chest in the last few moments of the game and your head is telling you one thing and your legs are telling you something else.

“They’re the moments where the support, and our support in particular, get right behind you and make that difference of running that little bit harder, chasing the ball down, blocking a shot, blocking a cross, buying a foul, running in behind. They make that difference for you”

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out plans for spectators to return to sporting events from May 17.

Unless the Seasiders reach the League One play-offs, this would mean Blackpool fans will have to wait until next season in order to make their return.

Dates for the play-off semi-finals are yet to be confirmed but they would be around May 17.

The PM did, however, reveal a selected number of stadiums will be used to host test events from April.

From May 17, attendances will be capped at 10,000 or 25 per cent of the stadium’s capacity, whichever is lower. In Blackpool’s case, that would mean a capacity of around 4,300 at Bloomfield Road.

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