Blackpool FC fans’ meeting: Announcement imminent on new training ground, plus updates on East Stand and season tickets

Blackpool Football Club’s hierarchy met with supporters earlier this week to discuss a wide range of topics.

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 7:30 am

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An update on the plans’ ambitious plans for a training ground, plus news on when season tickets will be put on sale were the main subjects discussed during the structured dialogue meeting on Tuesday.

The club were also quizzed on its longer-term plans for a new East Stand at Bloomfield Road.

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Owner Simon Sadler (SS) joined via video link, while board members Ben Mansford (BM) and Brett Gerrirty (BG) were in attendance.

Here’s a flavour of what was discussed, as revealed by the club’s minutes…

New training ground

SS: We are very close to an announcement and have spent some time this week drafting a press release for this.

The club's hierarchy met with supporters earlier this week

BM: We have an agreed contract and are waiting on a signature for this. We don’t want to announce anything as positive as this until everything has been agreed and signed.

East Stand

BM: Most supporters are aware that along with Blackpool Council, we made an application for some town deal funding – known as levelling up money. We were successful in acquiring £6.5million of funding, which can be used to enable the progression of the project. The actual building of the stand and everything that happens on the footprint will rest with the club and Simon. Some progressions to the back of the North Stand car park where the housing site is will be seen in the coming weeks and we are able to start work on this area. We now need to finalise the plans for the stand and what we should and shouldn’t put in there. We need to make a planning application for this, which may need some acquiring of land behind the East Stand. Timing of any announcements are difficult on this because of how the process may go with some of that land that needs acquiring. We will try and

finalise our plans for the East Stand and seek to make a planning application as quickly as possible. We have until March 2026 to access the £6.5 million of funding.

SS: You’re probably looking at £2,500-£3,000 per seat, which if for instance we built a 5,000 seater stand will cost £15million, so you’re looking at a major investment. We want to ensure the stadium is developed correctly, and this includes improved access for disabled supporters. Ultimately, we just want to get the stadium completed. We might have five years, but we just want to get it done and get it done correctly as soon as possible.

Long-term investment

SS: No secret that there are two major capital investment projects that the club are planning on undertaking – the training ground and the East Stand redevelopment. Conservatively, the cost of those will be £30 million, and these figures are going up all the time. This is the main focus, and the club won’t be splashing out big transfer fees whilst there are these investments to make. This will help to secure the long-term viability of the club. I commit to the investment and will loan the money to the club and will hope to get some or all of it back in the future. It’s down to all of us fans to contribute wherever possible, whether that be retail, ticket sales, sponsorship etc. Hopefully, the club will also become a beneficiary of redistribution of funds through the football pyramid in the future.

Promotion to the Premier League

SS: We don’t feel we should gamble to get to the Premier League with the aim to generate income to pay for the infrastructure investment. We need to keep improving year on year on the pitch, as we have done to date. We need to maintain our position in the Championship and then if the wind is blowing in the right direction, then there is a chance we could do it, but we have a greater chance of reaching the Premier League and staying there with the infrastructure in place, which is what we will continue to work towards.

Season tickets

BM: Aware that a number of clubs already on sale with 2022/23 season tickets, but the club wants to take time to make the best decisions possible and as such has waited for the club’s appointment of the new head of finance who started last week. The club is working on digital side of things with new website, single-sign-on capability which will include ticketing, retail, Tangerine TV etc. An announcement on pricing structure of season tickets will be published in a matter of days. We hope to be on sale with season tickets in the next 7-10 days. It has been a quite a remarkable season overall, given what the side has achieved and hopefully we will be able to grow on the 8,000 ST holders from 2021/22.

SS: Confirms introduction of 18-21 category after listening to supporter feedback.

Match day ticketing

BM: After listening to feedback, the club has decided to remove the ABC categorisation model and will introduce a membership model. A standard ticket will be £30 but if supporters buy a £15 adult membership for the season, they will get £5 discount off each home match they attend. This means an adult ticket will be £25, which is a similar pricing structure to when the club was in the Championship 10 years ago.

Away fans exiting East Stand

BM: Have been working hard with Lancashire Police and Lancashire Council to improve exit plans from the stadium. We hope these plans will mitigate any issues of egress from the south east corner and north east corner. We are on with this and we will try and have an improved exit in place for the start of the new season.

Pre-season plans

BM: We’re in good shape and have an attractive schedule to look forward to. There is still some paperwork to go through, but we will announce this once everything is finalised.

Reserve/developmental squad

BM: A decision made by John Stephenson, Neil Critchley and Ciaran Donnelly has been made with our blessing to re-enter a reserve team league. We will enter the Central League so that should give them around 10 further games.