Blackpool Supporters' Liaison Officer column: Blackpool's bigger crowds have brought some problems to solve
Wow! What a game that was at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, football theatre at its finest – what a valuable three points and what an atmosphere.
Homecoming Saturday excepted, that was probably the most rocking for a solid 98 minutes that Bloomfield Road has been in a decade – I’m thinking back to the 2011-12 season. It was immense.
As derbies go, it wasn’t even the most local. That comes later in the month when the Seasiders entertain Preston North End for the first time in years.
It’s looking like it will be sold out or as close to capacity as is currently possible under advisement from Lancashire Police.
For a variety of reasons, there have been a few niggling behavioural issues – for want of a better term – at some of the early-season games, with pyrotechnics, coins and bottles being thrown from the stands; some onto the pitch, some at away supporters.
The club, quite rightly, has been quick to condemn the irresponsible actions of a minority, pointing out the actual and potential repercussions: reduced stadium capacity, higher policing bills, fines, even points deductions.
Last week, the leading fans’ groups published an open letter in support of the club, a joint appeal to all fans to be passionate in their support but not to overstep the line into antisocial acts. The message appears to have got home.
Bloomfield Road has been unused to crowds of 12,000 and above for so long that I think many have forgotten what a busy matchday looks like.
Of course, it’s what we all want, a full ground on a regular basis, but concerns have been expressed about what happens after fans have exited the stadium.
I’ve had more emails and texts about this issue than any other in recent weeks. There is no one ideal solution.
There has been a clamour for away fans to be held back inside until all the home fans have departed, but Lancashire Police have pointed out that this tactic has not been used routinely for several years as it contravenes recent human rights legislation (ECHR Article 5 if you want to check) and could be construed as “unlawful detention”.
The club continues to work with the police to devise the best ways to mitigate issues arising from thousands of fans pouring out onto crowded streets together after a game.
It might sound simplistic to say it, but if everybody stays calm and shows respect for their fellow fans, home and away, as they move off into the evening, that would be a good start.
Ultimately, it’s an issue for the police, whose responsibility it is to maintain public safety for all on the streets of our town.
It’s probably fair to say that, once again, the international break has come at an opportune time given the number of injuries key players have picked up recently.
By the time we all return to Bloomfield Road on October 23, I hope you’ll notice one or two more changes for the better around the stadium.
As Blackpool FC looks to be a more environmentally green organisation, we will soon see the installation of rubbish bins with signage around the ground.
After every game, the Volunteers Group spends a few days clearing litter as well as cleaning seats.
On average they collect 40 large bin bags full of what we all throw away on the terraces under our seats.
They not only spend hours collecting it up, they also sort it for recycling.
Up until now, fans haven’t had much incentive to do anything with their rubbish except take it home – and how many would bother? – or drop it on the ground.
Think of the time and effort that could be saved if we all get into the habit of helping to keep our stadium tidy by putting our rubbish into the bins that will be installed this month. Thank you in advance for your co-operation.
One other change coming sooner than originally expected is an upgrade to the turnstiles, which will be enhanced to work more reliably and to cater for mobile ticketing ie. to read matchday tickets off your mobile phones.
That should speed up the process of getting into the ground, though the advice is still to arrive in plenty of time to avoid last-minute queues and potentially missing kick-off.
Finally from me this month, a plea to those who choose to leave the game early.
There have been quite a few complaints from fans who sit in the bottom rows that people who leave before the final whistle often stop to watch some of the frantic last few minutes’ action from the perimeter, blocking the view of everyone else.
That’s understandable but not considerate. The request is: stay in your seat until the final whistle or, if you choose to leave early, keep moving out of the exit. Don’t stand and block other fans’ view of the action. Thank you.
If you wish to contact me for any reason to do with supporter issues or have queries or suggestions, feel free to do so by email: [email protected] or message me: @BFCSLO on Facebook or Twitter: – it’s what I’m here for. UTMP!
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