We all agree that it has not been a great year either on or off the field at Blackpool FC. Relegation from the Championship was a certainty months before it became a reality and a second relegation in two years is a distinct possibility.
It appears that there are some who seek to blame this deteriorating state of affairs on unhappy and protesting fans “frightening off” good players from coming to the club. Frankly, that is absurd. Don’t let’s confuse cause with effect. Of course we are unhappy, but we are not the ones holding the purse-strings and making the decisions – not yet, anyway. We are only responding to the very poor custodianship of our club by the current owners. It is they who have had ample funds and ample opportunity to do a better job over the last few seasons but have failed to rise to the task.
Yes, Owen Oyston may have “saved” the club 25 years ago but he hardly transformed it. The transformation really came with Valeri Belokon’s share-holding and investment from 2006 onwards. But it’s old ground we’re going over here and there is a High Court Case pending.
What the majority of fans feel is that the fortunes of Blackpool FC and therefore the joy of being a Seasider, are never again going to amount to much while the current regime owns and directs affairs at Bloomfield Road.
There is a growing recognition that football clubs are - and should be seen to be - more than just businesses or playthings for rich owners. They are social institutions rooted in communities; and the custodians of these clubs ought to be more inclusive of the wishes of the fans and the community, both socially and economically. The owners of Blackpool FC don’t seem to subscribe to that vision. They appear to be treating our football club as little more than a money-making scheme with minimal risk to themselves. The rumour that they’d be perfectly happy just with the revenue from office rentals and a couple of big rock concerts a year at the stadium may not be so far from the truth.
The lack of any significant ambition for or investment in the club in the last four seasons – the very real sense of a legacy squandered - is why thousands have deserted Bloomfield Road already and why more will do so once the current 2-year season ticket deal ends.
So this may not feel like a particularly rewarding time to be a Blackpool FC supporter. These are dark times and many feel a sense of loss, that the heart has been ripped out of an institution that has been central to our lives for so long. In fact it is one very compelling reason why Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is so important for the future of the club.
Owners and directors come and go but without the supporters – the real heart and soul of the club – there would be no Blackpool FC. Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was founded on the principle that a football club belongs first and foremost to the community of its supporters. We – and that can mean every fan – can make a difference. Surely everyone can support the idea that fans should have a stake in the future of Blackpool FC, to guard its proud history and to ensure it is there for this and future generations in tangerine. It may be a long campaign but we will eventually succeed.
At this turning of the year, if you haven’t already done so, resolve to help make that difference. Together, as fans united, we are Blackpool FC. You can join online at our website: www.blackpoolsupporters.org or via any of our committee members at home or away matches. Stay positive. Change is going to come.
We wish a Happy New Year to everyone.