Blackpool fans in celebratory mood at very extraordinary meeting

Valeri Belokon
Valeri Belokon

“It’s within our grasp”.

That was the message that summed up the jubilant mood among Blackpool supporters as they assembled for an extraordinary general meeting on Saturday.

Tim Fielding gave an impressive speech at Saturday's meeting

Tim Fielding gave an impressive speech at Saturday's meeting

The meeting, called by Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST), saw hundreds cram into the lounge of the Excelsior pub in Lytham Road prior to Blackpool’s home game against Portsmouth. In fact, it was so busy a handful of fans were forced to listen in from the nearby stairway.

Those in attendance were certainly in the mood to celebrate following the news that the football club is now up for sale.

While the future remains unclear, it is very much hoped the end is in sight for those supporters who have made the incredibly tough decision to boycott matches in recent years.

Attention now turns to who will be responsible for taking the club forward. Will it be Valeri Belokon?

Tim Fielding, honorary vice-president of BST, said: “I have had quite a few conversations with Valeri and he’s indicated that he wants to stay involved but not on his own.

“He’s said in the past someone else is potentially interested and that goes back to 2015.

“Valeri wants someone to come in and run the business for him. He would come over to do his bit if and when required – that’s how he runs his businesses all over the world.

“Any potential purchaser would want the club and the stadium. I doubt they would want the Travelodge, a wedding venue that is never used as a wedding venue, or the training ground either.

“But we still do not know what the Oystons are prepared to sell for.”

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Meanwhile, self-confessed Blackpool fan Andy Pilley, now the owner of Fleetwood Town, has been linked as a potential buyer by some Blackpool fans.

He refused to be drawn on the matter when asked by The Gazette if he would have any interest this time round.

“It seems to be no more than a rumour,” Fielding added.

“But he’s a football man, he certainly was a Blackpool fan at some point, he lives on the Fylde coast and he runs his football club properly.

“Most fans would be delighted if he was interested but I doubt the EFL would allow him or his family to run two football clubs – especially two in the same division.”

Fielding’s comments came after the Trust’s former chairman had received a rapturous standing ovation for all his efforts over the years.

The lawyer had eloquently answered the many questions raised at the meeting in relation to the High Court ruling, which saw the Oyston family ordered to buy out Belokon’s shares for the princely sum of £31.27m.

A “scorched earth policy,” as one fan described it, is the greatest fear of those supporters who believe the Oystons will not depart without a fight.

Should they cease funding the club, Blackpool may find themselves in a similar situation to Leyton Orient last season. That, Fielding said, is why they must continue to campaign for more stringent governance.

“Little or nothing was done, or could be done, to stop an owner who basically closed his wallet and said I’m not paying for this anymore,” Fielding said of Orient.

“They are in the National League now because of the whims of an owner who just took his bat and ball home.”

While there is now light at the end of the tunnel for Blackpool fans, those in attendance at Saturday’s meeting were warned the Oystons won’t take this lying down.

“It’s been a momentous week,” BST chairman Christine Seddon admitted.

“It’s been a collective effort and it’s testament to every Blackpool fan that we’ve managed to achieve this. But let’s not get carried away, though – we are not there yet.”