Blackpool Supporters' Trust column: Progress being made on and off the pitch?

Looking forward to Saturday’s game against our closest neighbours, we must all first congratulate Neil Critchley and the players for a wonderful result at Reading.

By Blackpool Supporters#0027 Trust
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 4:45 pm

This three-goal, second-half comeback reflects how 2021/22 is becoming a season of slim margins and varying fortunes.

It was only a month ago when Blackpool conceded three second-half goals against Huddersfield, so the familiar trope that supporting Blackpool ensures a ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ rings true.

Off the field, for those following the fan-led review, these are also exciting times for British supporters’ trusts.

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Blackpool won at Reading in midweek

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In the next two weeks, Tracey Crouch MP is expected to propose a raft of far-reaching reforms which will be the biggest change to the way football is managed in this country since its inception in the 1860s (the FA) and the 1880s (the EFL).

These measures will include taking away regulatory functions from the FA, the EFL and EPL, and vesting these powers in a truly independent body which will be well staffed with the remit to change English football for the better.

We also expect steps will be taken to ensure that the supporters, through their democratically-elected supporters’ trusts, will have a far greater say in how clubs are managed and a greater voice in the strategic decisions that will affect their future. Unprecedented times indeed.

BST is in contact with a growing number of supporters groups at clubs such as Oldham Athletic, Southend United, Rochdale, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Northampton Town, all of whom are currently experiencing difficulties.

Among Ms Crouch’s proposals, we expect she will outline a new way of distributing TV revenues, removing some of the huge inequalities that currently exist throughout the football pyramid and a clear statement on how the independent football regulator will have powers to identify and sanction rogue owners before they cause irrevocable damage to football clubs.

While change is in the air, it is fitting that the BST AGM will take place in The Billy Ayre Lounge at The Armfield Club on Saturday, December 4 (11am-1pm).

Refreshments will be available, as will a Zoom facility for those who can’t make it in person and for those still uncertain about mixing closely with others.

This is an important meeting and we are hoping for a good turnout.

We can confirm that the club’s chief executive, Ben Mansford, will be joining us to give his view on current events at the club and what progress we are making, and he will also take questions.

We have also extended invitations to three parliamentarians and a key member of the DCMS’ fan-led review

We will consult BST members well in advance about what you would like our guests to address, so everyone has an opportunity to contribute.

Also on December 4, we will be announcing the outcome of our annual elections.

An invitation to stand for election went out to members last week and voting will get underway on November 13.

There are three vacancies on the BST committee and we look forward to the added impetus that new blood and fresh ideas will bring to the work we do.

In terms of foodbanks and football boots, we are working in partnership with our colleagues at Blackpool Foodbank, Blackpool FC and the BFC Community Trust to make sure that all members of our community get the support that they deserve.

Collections will continue and, on matchdays from December 4, you should be able to see separate collection bins for food and boots at strategic points around the ground, in which you can make any contributions.

There will be more news to follow on this and other initiatives very soon.

It is likely you will be reading this a day before our eagerly-anticipated derby with Preston North End.

For away supporters, the occasion will be tinged with sadness at the recent passing of owner and long-time benefactor, Trevor Hemmings.

Mr Hemmings largely shunned publicity but did significant philanthropic work for the community of Preston and beyond without any fanfare or fuss; a very decent quality.

That said, the weekend’s battle lines are already being drawn and there is great anticipation from both ends of the M55 about what will happen when Saturday comes.

For younger fans, it will be their first taste of a home league fixture between these two old rivals, with our last meeting being a hard-fought 0-0 draw in November 2009. That was a fateful season in a number of ways.

It saw Blackpool win promotion to the top flight for the first time in more than 30 years and the following season saw both clubs relegated.

As our decline continued down to the fourth tier, we passed Preston travelling in the other direction, as has happened on previous occasions.

With both clubs approaching the game from a mid-table position after midweek comebacks, as these meetings are quite rare, let’s all savour and enjoy the prospect of a feisty and entertaining derby.

Come on you Super Seasiders!

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