BST column: April Fools! But who’s kidding who?

Blackpool's manager Neil McDonald
Blackpool's manager Neil McDonald
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April Fools’ Day! Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s kidding who.

When the Southend manager claimed this week that McDonald was asking his fellow managers for “guidance about relationships with people above him at the club” because “there isn’t a relationship with his owners”, did we assume Phil Brown was indulging in gamesmanship in advance of tomorrow’s match at Bloomfield Road?

Probably not. His sympathies appear to be with a fellow professional who is trying to make a success of his tenure at Blackpool but who appears to have the odds stacked against him.

When Blackpool’s owner attempted to wipe away years of anger and mistrust by telling fans “I really believe we can get back to winning ways and return to the top flight. For my part, I am dedicating my life to achieving the success we all want”, did we assume Owen Oyston was fantasising about another multi-million pound windfall for the company? Probably so.

And yet we may be doing him a mis-service.

It’s hard to tell, when there is a lack of openness and transparency at the top, when the manager adopts a bunker-like mentality and even the local press is not welcome at the club.

Fans, as a rule, are pretty down-to-earth and clued-up about how well or badly their club is being run.

The fact that there are regularly fewer than 3,000 paying Blackpool fans inside Bloomfield Road these days tells its own story, well in advance of Judgement Day 2.

Thousands of hard-working, dedicated and passionate Blackpool fans know they’ve been kidded along for far too long by the current owner and his chairman. They hope for better fortunes for the club they love but are rightly cynical about the intentions and ability of the Oystons to deliver.

One sure pre-requisite for getting back to winning ways and a return to the top flight is sensible, significant and sustained investment of capital in the playing squad – the sort of investment that has been conspicuously lacking in recent years and which has led the club to the predicament it finds itself in now, battling to avoid the drop to the bottom division.

Investment is one of the items Blackpool Supporters’ Trust wants to discuss with the club if the mediated meeting eventually happens, although Councillor Williams, who met with Karl Oyston recently, advised that BST’s proposal to table a discussion about “a transparent forward investment plan was dismissed immediately by the BFC chairman.” We don’t know if the owner is of the same opinion or not.

Maybe Owen Oyston would like to be at the meeting. BST will certainly request that he be invited to speak his mind and make his intentions known to the fans.

BST has undertaken to go along with this plan for mediated talks with the club. Dialogue of some kind is surely required if the present state of affairs is ever to be improved or resolved.

We may be passionate supporters but our criticisms are always constructive ones. We are also reasonable people, with the best interests of the fan base, the club and the community uppermost in all that we do.

We hope that this process will lead to substantive change at the top and won’t just be more April Foolery.