Blackpool Supporters' Trust column: Optimism for Seasiders' fans and a meeting with Southend United supporters
These are exciting times if you are a Blackpool fan.
Nine games remain, the team is unbeaten in its last 13 and seems well poised for a play-off push.
While the mood among fans is confident, there is still a lot to do.
We face Lincoln this weekend, Sunderland twice and Doncaster, all of whom have play-off aspirations or better, while Rochdale, Northampton and Bristol Rovers all have an equally desperate need for points.
Whether Pool fans get to see any of it live is still a matter of debate.
The football authorities and the government seem keen to run test events ahead of a bigger relaxation of Covid-19 rules in June, but whether we will get to benefit remains uncertain.
The team has done well without us, and as a club, we have a play-off record par excellence in English football. Let’s hope that tradition, and our luck, hold for a little while longer.
A fanbase looking at an entirely different reality is that of Southend United.
It seems barely credible that a little more than 18 months ago, we met them at Roots Hall in an early season fixture.
If last year was a campaign that they will readily forget, then this year is even worse.
It’s a familiar tale in some ways. Boardroom upheaval, money problems, a procession of managers and players who either aren’t up to – or ready for – the task.
They are not without hope. In recent weeks, the team has had an encouraging upward surge in form, especially away from home.
Off the field, it looks a lot less promising. Ten years ago, the club was in crisis and an organisation called “Save Our Southend” (SOS) was formed to campaign for change at the club.
In the last month or so, that organisation has been revived in the face of concerns about tax bills, doubts about the future of a ground that sits on prime development land, a deeply unpopular owner and poor results.
If it all sounds familiar, that is because it is. On the day you read this article, we at BST will be meeting with SOS for the first time to discuss their current predicament and learn more about what they are trying to achieve.
Our promise to them is a simple one – if we can help, we will. We have a lot of experience that is relevant to their situation and we think it is our duty to help the fans of other clubs where they are in trouble, if we can.
All this comes at a time when the fan-led review of football governance looks tantalisingly close.
The government seems to be actively preparing for it, which is a good sign, and we have all our fingers crossed this initiative is close to getting underway.
Any review that is led by the fans clearly has huge implications for the national supporters’ groups.
It is a one-off chance to influence the way the game is run for a long time to come and we all need to make the very most of it.
We continue at BST to play as active a part as we can to help our colleagues at the Football Supporters’ Association do just that.
Finally, back to Covid-19. In all the excitement about what lies in store in this campaign, it should not be forgotten the pandemic continues to inhibit clubs in getting ready for next season.
We hope fans will be back in the ground but can’t be sure in what sort of numbers – or how they will have to behave in order to be there.
So pity the poor clubs trying to manage their cash flow projections for next year in order to set season ticket prices.
Last year, many of you took part in the BST survey and generated a lot of data on how you felt about these issues.
It was especially interesting that a majority of you felt that supporting the club financially through a difficult period was far more important to you than the price of the season ticket itself.
That sort of intelligence about your attitudes towards the game and the club is priceless, especially when BST members and non-members alike take part in the survey in the way that you did in 2020.
We are just about to begin our work to design the 2021 survey, so if you have ideas about its content, then do get in contact with us at [email protected]
We will be delighted to hear from you and will continue to try to be a voice for everyone who loves the club.
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