Blackpool Supporters' Trust column: A good start to the year could still improve further

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2022 has largely been very good to Blackpool supporters so far and could become even better – but let’s take stock for a moment.

Though Covid has by no means left us, relaxation of Government restrictions has, for now, at least seen the end of ground entry point checks.

Great credit goes to the club and supporters for bearing with this procedure while it was in place, everyone playing their part to ensure things have gone well.

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On the pitch, we can proudly claim to be unbeaten this year – provided, that is, we skip past our early demise in the FA Cup.

Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley has his players looking as if they belong in the ChampionshipBlackpool head coach Neil Critchley has his players looking as if they belong in the Championship
Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley has his players looking as if they belong in the Championship
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This wonderful competition divides opinion a little these days, but it’s fair to say that we’re way overdue a decent cup run. Indeed, our younger supporters will never have seen one!

However, injuries aside, February is a good news month for Blackpool.

We’ve negotiated a largely successful transfer window with several players moving out and some exciting new signings including Jake Beesley, Charlie Kirk, Doug Tharme and Owen Dale on a permanent basis.

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We warmly welcome back two quality players in Jordan Thorniley and Ethan Robson and have a new assistant head coach in Iain Brunskill.

We have also put together a tremendous set of results through January and February, leaving us with 11 points from five matches and looking completely at home in this league.

Special mention must surely, however, go to a game we drew rather than won.

An away day for the days at Fulham saw 2,000 happy Seasiders making the trip to the capital, some using novel modes of transport to get there.

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Thanks to great organisational work from Ashley Knowles and MSG, a hefty percentage even took to the Thames beforehand on two chartered boats.

As for the match itself, on a day when – for once – all focus was not on the EPL, we showed a watching world that Blackpool are a force to be reckoned with, very nearly stealing a result.

The condolences of BST and we’re sure, all Seasiders, go out to the family and friends of Fulham supporter Paul Parish, who died after being taken ill at the game.

The respect from players and supporters from both teams on the day and the tributes from Fulham players and supporters at their recent match with Millwall show our game at its very best.

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All this at a time when once again, due to actions of some on and off the pitch, it is also under the spotlight for some of the wrong reasons.

On this theme, we return to the issue of football governance: one we know is less than gripping for some readers but is, nonetheless, crucial.

We’re aware that some clubs we have pitched ourselves against forever, from Bury to Oldham, Reading to Derby, and beyond, are struggling.

All these clubs, their supporters and communities would have benefited from a stronger and fairer regulatory environment.

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We escaped by the skin of our teeth into the hands of a true custodian in Simon Sadler and his team. How fortunate we are.

However, help is on the horizon for badly-run clubs and the impending changes are also incredibly timely for Blackpool FC, its fans and local community.

Big changes are in the air for football in the form of the fan-led review chaired by Tracey Crouch.

BST, who are closely involved within the Football Supporters’ Association, were invited to provide oral and written panel evidence, our input based on learnings from the brutal experience of the Oyston years.

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This review is expected to result in legislation that will, among, other moves:

Create an independent regulator (think of an OFCOM or HSE for football) to police the new laws.

Improve how TV money flows to smaller clubs in the football pyramid – currently the EPL swallows a huge proportion.

Address the nonsense of parachute payments.

Ensure that ordinary fans have a fair voice.

Protect the all-important heritage of clubs (think no more ‘Hull Tigers’).

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Join us please by viewing our summary of the recommendations at

This time next year, all of this will be heading into law.

With cross-party political support already, this is going to happen and we must plan and prepare for success.

Here’s even better news. We can assure you that when this happens, Blackpool FC as a responsibly-owned, well-run, community-focused club, is perfectly placed to benefit.

Now a plea. We all love the word ‘Progress’ in our motto.

If you left BST recently, thinking we were just a protest group and the job is now done, please rejoin.

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Everything we do is with progress in mind. We pledge to work tirelessly alongside Blackpool FC, the Blackpool FC Community Trust, MSG and other supporters’ groups to benefit our club, supporters and community.

If you are an existing member, a lapsed member, or have never been one, we’d love to welcome you.

Details are available at

At this point we thank Pauline O’Rourke, who steps down from her formal role after years of service to BST.

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We’re delighted to hear that Pauline has committed to help informally, and this is so important.

We’d be a poorer Trust and a poorer community without help from people like Pauline. Thanks for everything.

This leads to our final request, which is for you to tell us what you think.

Our community work requires investment and commitment from people like you, personally, and through your business and community connections.

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Leading on from last year’s work on the ‘Shirts for Schools’ initiative, supporting Blackpool Food Bank and volunteering at the ground, we’ll undertake football and community-based campaigns that really help improve people’s lot.

We need your opinion on where and on what projects we should focus.

Therefore, to help shape our shared future and whether or not you’re a current BST member, please complete our short fans survey.

The response helps shape what we do together in this exciting year.

The address is

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