BST column: A new season but the same Blackpool worries

Owen Oyston and Jonathan Disley have been pictured together in pre-season
Owen Oyston and Jonathan Disley have been pictured together in pre-season
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We haven’t exactly been starved of football over the summer months, as the 2018 World Cup provided an unexpectedly riveting spectacle with some memorable games.

That football fix just makes the ongoing and unresolved situation at Bloomfield Road all the harder to take.

We had hoped we might be Oyston-free by now, back inside in numbers, supporting the team in tangerine, with new owners and a brighter future opening up.

Expectations had been raised that regime change at Blackpool FC would follow apace, either via the football authorities stepping in or by the swingeing award against the Oystons making a deal with Valeri Belokon the obvious solution.

Nine months down the line, neither of those things has happened yet.

We are on the eve of a new league campaign with Owen Oyston still controlling Blackpool FC, hanging on and continuing to preside over the decline of a club that had every right to deserve more of its owners and of the legacy which hard-won promotion to the Premier League brought.

Belokon appears to have been extremely lenient in allowing Oyston time to manoeuvre towards a negotiated settlement, presumably because if it works, it is less protracted than taking designated properties and shareholdings to public auction.

As a consequence, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, now in its fifth year, begins this season as it ended the last one – at the forefront of the fight for positive change, maintaining the ethical boycott and ready to work with new owners.

It also means that as frustration mounts, the Trust is in the difficult position of having to try and manage fans’ expectations.

Here are a couple of quotes from some thought-provoking summer reading: ‘The reason why football is so important to so many of us is precisely because of the experience of association at its heart and the vivid sense of community that it provides’ and ‘Here is perhaps the most basic and profound contradiction in football: its form is association, socialism, the sociability and collective action of players and fans and yet its material substrate is money: dirty money, often from highly questionable, under-scrutinized sources.’ (Simon Critchley in ‘What We Think About When We Think About Football’.)

The whole point of the Supporters’ Trust is to embody that association and camaraderie, the community of Blackpool’s football family of fans and then to work by all legitimate means to ensure our football club is run in an as ethical and community-minded way as is possible.

That being the case, BST calls upon all Blackpool fans, community organisations and the people of Blackpool to come and stand with us outside Bloomfield Road before the first home game of the season on August 11.

We are not proposing a protest march but believe a strong presence outside the West Stand from 2pm, with banners, placards, flags and slogans of defiance, will send the strongest message to Mr Oyston, the media and any potential buyer that Blackpool fans have not gone away.

Images of Owen Oyston associating with Jonathan Disley serve only to remind us that he does not have the club’s best interests at heart.

Even if you plan to go into the game but are in favour of a change of ownership, please come along early and stand in solidarity with us for a while to make that point.

Portsmouth, Blackpool’s opponents in that first home game, have had many problems of their own and have always been very supportive of the actions taken by Blackpool fans. They have confirmed that they will also show their solidarity with us once again.

Finally, to Gary Bowyer and the Seasiders’ squad of 2018-19, we wish you great success in the coming campaign, with the hope that the situation at the club changes for the better so that we can return full force to give you the backing you deserve. Come on you Seasiders!