Blackpool FC chief executive Ben Mansford speaks out on long and short-term goals
Matt Scrafton spoke at length with new Blackpool chief executive Ben Mansford, who discussed long and short-term plans for the club. Here are some of the questions he answered .....
“I think expectation has increased from when the club finally moved on from its previous ownership.
“If you could design your own owner it would be Simon. Then Simon Grayson comes in and there’s a new management team, and the plans to improve the club on and off the field heighten that expectation.
“I don’t think we should shy away from it. We shouldn’t pretend it’s not there.
“Maybe the expectations are going beyond where we might be, given that Simon has only owned the club for five months.
“But Simon wouldn’t have had the career he’s had if he didn’t want to win and punch above his weight.
“If we don’t want to exceed expectations, then we shouldn’t be here.”
What is the first priority on the list?
“I think we just have to engage with the supporters again, whether they’re sponsors, stakeholders, season ticket holders or lapsed fans.
“The single most important thing for us is to make this club a place people want to come to, to make Blackpool FC the place to be –bar one or two leisure facilities in town – and the focal point of a lot of what happens.
“I hope if we cultivate the right culture and environment, and engage in the right way, that the results will come.
“The next thing we will be judged by is the results on the pitch.
“But for me, engaging and putting Blackpool back on the footballing map and the hub of what is happening in this community for five, 10, 15 years has to be the most important thing.”
Will you be a hands-on CEO?
“One of my strengths is that I can foster that team spirit because you’re only as strong as your team – I can’t do everything.
“I will get in the trenches, if you like, and lead from the front.
“I will be here six or seven days a week and I will be available to the guys, so it will definitely be hands on.
“I want to create an environment in which people want to work hard and want to exceed expectations.
“Blackpool did that so famously under Ian Holloway and you’re not going to be able to do that if you give it anything less than 110 per cent.”
How impressed are you with Simon Grayson?
“We knew of each other already and he’s got the most promotions out of this division. He is also a very experienced manager at this level and in general.
“I hope it shows the commitment Simon Sadler has that he brought in such a proven coach and manager, and invested as he did in the squad towards the end of the summer.
“I’m really delighted to have Simon Grayson as my manager and I very much hope he has another promotion in him to extend his record.”
Do you expect yours to be a long-term appointment?
“I think with what we want to achieve here for the football club, Simon sees himself as a custodian. It epitomises what he’s all about.
“I want to deliver a team the club can be proud of, a training facility to improve the infrastructure of the footprint here.
“To do that will take years, so I’m in it for the long haul unless Simon tells me differently.
“There are so many things we can do. Ash Hackett and his staff with the Community Trust did a great job at a time when they probably didn’t receive much support from the club.
“You look at what the academy have done with pretty much zero investment. We’ve got so much to do, it’s really exciting times.
“For me it’s all about coming together to put us back where we want to be - and that will take a lot of hard work together.”
How much of a say will you have on football matters?
“I know there was talk of a director of football appointment, but as Simon has come to clarify his own thinking I would consider myself a football CEO.
“That’s how I see myself being able to help. We’ve got a manager who is very experienced and we’ve now brought in Tommy Johnson and Jonathan Gibson, who will work together as a team with the gaffer to build that team. For now I think that means the director of football title is not something we will see happening.
“But I think with the skill sets of the team we’ve put together, then I’ll be heavily involved and it will be a good team effort.”
What changes can the fans expect to see?
“I think if you see how far we’ve come in the last five months, we’ve invested in the infrastructure already.
“We’ve invested in the ticket situation and we’ll invest in CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
“We’ll put a new look and feel across the club in how we communicate across the departments.
“The fans will start to see that very soon, and I hope there is an online day this month when we will be able to launch the CRM system with our own twist on it.
“It’s very, very exciting times but we have to remember just how short a period Simon has owned the club for and how short a time his management team have been in place.
“If the fans can just give us a little bit of patience, then I really hope there are incredibly exciting times ahead.”
Will there be fans’ forums?
“Yes, absolutely. It’s my duty to engage with supporters and answer questions, to not hide and front up to things people are upset about or want answers to.
“I hope that in the main the lads and Simon do the talking for me with their football.
“But I’d like to do an evening with Simon with the supporters, and I’d like to get out and about to know more of them.
“I hope that we will do as much of that as we can but it’s difficult with almost 6,000 season ticket holders – I’m sure they all want to sit and talk with me.
“But what we have to do – and I’ve done it in the past, especially with Barnsley – is to create a group of fans I meet with every six to eight weeks.
“This will include representatives from all the major supporters’ groups and make sure they understand what is happening with our plans and our vision.
“Hopefully everyone feels there is real transparency about what is happening within the club.”