Blackpool Supporters' Trust column: Donating for the present and investing for our future

BST wants supporters to have a financial stake in the club
BST wants supporters to have a financial stake in the club
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A heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated food, clothes, toiletries and toys for our nominated charities, Home-Start in St Annes and HIS Provisions on Central Drive.

Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is extremely grateful to the volunteers who helped and those who turned out on a freezing afternoon to bring bags of goodies. Blackpool’s footballing family in action –well done all.

Keeping with the community theme, today sees the reopening of a revamped historic pub in town. The Blue Room has become the Brew Room – 1887 The Brew Room to give its official title, in recognition that this was the place, then the Stanley Arms Hotel on Church Street, where Blackpool FC was founded 130 years ago. The décor is blue and white – Blackpool’s original colours. The pubwill open from 5pm on weekdays and all day at weekends.

It is the first micro-brewery in Blackpool and only self-brewed and regional beers will be sold. To celebrate, BST members will get a 10 per cent discount on the draught beers all week (on production of a current membership card).

BST’s announcement that it is working with Supporters Direct on proposals for a community shares scheme for the Trust has raised some eyebrows this week. A bit of background might be useful:

It is well understood that the way football is run has transformed in the last couple of decades. The sums involved are astronomical and the change has led to many big clubs being owned by businessmen who often know little about the game and probably care even less about the social importance of the clubs they own or the communities in which they are based.

Season ticket prices at a number of Premier League and Championship clubs are already beyond the means of some traditional supporters. At the same time, TV and sponsorship incomes have, in some instances, relegated supporters to the role of TV extras, required only to create the right atmosphere for a product sold worldwide.

Our game appears to be moving further away from where we, the fans, would like it to be and the supposed guardians of that game, the football authorities, seem to have lost the ability or the will to respond effectively to the warping caused by these commercial pressures.

If the trend is not halted, it will be to the detriment of the majority of ordinary clubs in communities like ours. Football was built on fan loyalty and without the fans the whole structure is not just hollow, it is unsustainable. Fan involvement in the administration of the game is key to the future.

Therefore the Trust will continue to press through the Fans Not Numbers campaign for regulatory reform of English football and for greater involvement by supporters in the running of football in this country – that means greater fan representation in the hierarchy of the FA and on the boards of individual clubs.

BST’s announcement that it is working towards a community share initiative has been prompted by a desire to ensure that the supporters of BFC are ready and able to act when an opportunity to invest in our club arises.

We believe a community share scheme, run in strict accordance with ethical guidelines, will offer the best way for supporters to have a real chance of being involved in helping to shape the future.

It is probably unrealistic to expect such a scheme would result in outright fan ownership but a 10 or 20 per cent shareholding underpinned by a shareholder agreement with other investors could be realistic. FC United raised £2m in this way and Pompey £2.5m.

There are details to be determined before a formal proposal is launched, and the rate at which Blackpool FC moves towards a change of ownership may mean the Trust opts for a pledge or pre-share offer in the interim.

You do have to be a member of BST first. You can join at www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com.