Blackpool Supporters' Trust preparing behind the scenes for new era

BST column
BST column

As far as the average football fan is able to determine, Judge Marcus Smith’s ruling last month really begins to look like the end game for the Oystons’ involvement in Blackpool Football Club.

It is a cause for cautious optimism that maybe we can make a fresh start under new ownership before or by the close season.

Given we are entering a period of unprecedented uncertainty and likely change, it is important that BST should be anticipating how the Trust and the fan-base can best be positioned to work together for the good of all Blackpool fans, for the good of the club’s future and for the community. Here is an insight into some of what is going on behind the scenes.

Because as fans we wish to ensure that no owner can ever take such cynical advantage of Blackpool FC again (or any other English football club for that matter), BST has formally requested the EFL to make robust changes to its rules for Owners and Directors and to use the evidence of what has happened at Blackpool as a case study to help ensure such rules are water-tight.

That will be discussed at a meeting with the EFL in London this evening. Pressure towards the same objective will be applied by phase two of the national Fans-Not-Numbers campaign, aimed at lobbying MPs to vote to legislate on governance reforms for the FA, EFL and EPL.

Because the Oystons’ legal team has been claiming in court, somewhat spuriously we believe, that the requirement to pay Mr Belokon £10m next week and the balance next year might have the effect of driving Blackpool FC into administration, BST is working closely with Supporters’ Direct to understand the protocols around such an event. It is one for which the Supporters’ Trust will have a contingency strategy.

The two hundred or so minority shareholders who between them have a 3 per cent stake in Blackpool FChave not been well-respected by the owners. There hasn’t been a shareholders’ AGM in years and no dividends have been paid in a long time.

It is quite possible, in light of the verdict of unfair prejudice in the Belokon case, that the minority shareholders could bring a similar action worth in the region of £1.5m.

BST has already sourced someone prepared to fund initial investigations into the merits of such a claim, which will only be viewed as viable if sufficient fellow minor shareholders join in. Those holding shares in Blackpool Football Club Ltd (not BFC Properties – formerly Segesta) are invited to confidentially register their interest with BST. There will be no cost to them in doing so. Please contact secretary@blackpoolsupporterstrust.com.

BST’s abiding wish is that the club should have owners who are passionate about football, about Blackpool and about our football club as a positive social force in the community. We still hope that Mr Belokon will have a role to play in the future of Blackpool FC, for it was his arrival and investment in Blackpool FC that gave us the best years this club has had in half a century.

Regardless of who takes over, the Trust hopes the new owners will recognise the passion and commitment of thousands of principled fans who have been calling for change in the boardroom at Blackpool FC for several years.

Properly democratic supporter representation in the running of the club has to be a key element in rebuilding a vibrant football club.

BST is also working, with the help of the Supporters’ Direct Community Share Unit, to develop the Pledge concept to allow all Blackpool fans to buy into having a financial stake in their club if a share-option can be created.

These may be times of unprecedented uncertainty for our beloved football club but they are also times of great potential.

We are at the start of a new and positive era for Blackpool FC and its supporters. Many doubted it would ever happen, but it is coming.