Blackpool SLO column: Seasiders can become an example of a true community club

The process has started in making Blackpool reconnect with the community
The process has started in making Blackpool reconnect with the community
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Top of the league after four games – what a fantastic start! Of course expectations were high, given the seismic changes of the last couple of months.

Thousands of Blackpool fans have been looking forward to the new season in a way we haven’t for years and surely few can be disappointed with how this latest trip has commenced.

The pitch now looks like a decent surface on which to play attractive, passing football; the stadium is starting to receive the facelift that it has badly needed; and the team in tangerine so nearly equalled a 70-year-old club record for the best start ever (under Joe Smith in 1946 – most of us weren’t even born then).

The positivity inside the club and around the town is so refreshing after the struggles of the last few years and of course it’s brilliant to have the fans back in numbers, averaging 10,000 for each of the home league games to date.

As I remarked in the most recent matchday programme, the players are really motivated by the atmosphere that’s building again at Bloomfield Road – and it can only get better.

Logistically those first home games threw up a few issues that the club is working hard to resolve.

Given the underinvestment around the place for so long, I think most people understand there’s a long list of improvement opportunities and I hope you appreciate it will take some time to address all of them.

My prime focus as Supporters’ Liaision Officer is to work for a better matchday experience for all fans at the football club and I have logged over 250 suggestions to date.

Many were obvious requirements – a scoreboard that works, a better PA system, greater and better choice of food and drink, faster service in the concourse bars, moving the away fans to the north end of the East Stand, attracting a new generation of young supporters; others less so – coach travel to away games, restoring the Junior Seasiders club, creating a Blackpool FC museum.

It’s a question of prioritising and funding, and the goal is one of continuous improvement as everyone works to reconnect the people of the town with their football club to make it, as Simon Sadler intends, a model of what a good community football club should be.

Some of the changes mentioned are already in place and others are in the pipeline.

A very successful ‘Open Day’ was held earlier this month, when some 800 young fans and their families watched the players train on the pitch, and got photos and autographs. It is hoped to repeat this opportunity at half-term.

The club is putting on coach travel to away games, starting with Rochdale tomorrow.

There are plans to live-screen home games on the concourse TVs so that fans queuing for refreshments won’t have to miss any of the on-field action.

It is hoped this will be in place for the next home fixture against Portsmouth.

Also, work has commenced this week on renovating the north end of the East Stand in readiness for accommodating away fans there.

It is my hope that week-by-week you will all see changes for the better when you visit Bloomfield Road and I’ll use these monthly columns in The Gazette to communicate the changes to you.

It’s a key responsibility of the SLO to be a conduit between fans and the club.

The days of the old bunker mentality are gone.

This is now a listening club again, where all suggestions or concerns will be acknowledged, given serious consideration and acted upon if it is possible and appropriate to do so – and where it is not, at least an explanation will be forthcoming.

If you have issues, concerns or suggestions for how to improve the quality of the matchday experience at Bloomfield Road, or just want to start a conversation, contact me.

You can reach me via twitter: @BFCSLO, via email: slo@blackpoolfc.co.uk and on Facebook: Blackpool FC Supporters’ Liaison Officer.