In a significant display of unanimity and true supporter democracy, all four fans’ groups have this week declined the invitation to meet with the club after consulting their members.
Opinions as to why appear to suggest two significant factors: the out-of-hand rejection of requests from several fans groups for a more level playing-field (equal numbers of delegates, an independent minute-taker), and the appearance of Blackpool FC’s chairman on local radio talking up the condition of the club and the importance of his Fans Progress Group.
Consultation between a club and its supporters is not only healthy, it’s about to become Football League policy as a result of the recent government report – at least two meetings per year.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is fully supportive of the plan, so we are happy to meet with the other democratic fans’ groups and the club, if it accepts the invitation, on more equitable terms than the March 10 meeting was offering.
As background to those who may be unaware, back in 2013 Karl Oyston, in conjunction with the chairman of BSA, spoke to Supporters’ Direct about the option of constituting a Supporters’ Trust at Blackpool.
This is what Mr Oyston reported back:“There’s no pressing structural problems at this club which need addressing and we’d be wasting our time and money forming a Trust. So we decided not to bother. I would need to have a major problem, spend all our money and plunge us down the divisions before a Trust would become relevant.”
Times and fortunes change. The supporters themselves took the initiative in early 2014 and the 2,000-strong Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is the result.
Mind you, Mr Oyston adopted a similar stance over appointing a Supporters Liaison Officer: “We haven’t got one, and we aren’t going to have one... I think it’s a stupid idea and it won’t be happening here.”
After the Football League insisted that it was a requirement, Mr Oyston merely paid lip-service to the concept in our opinion and the Trust is concerned that the charade of the Fans Progress Group should not be more of the same.
If the club really wanted to engage effectively with supporters, the opportunity was there last May (when BSA revoked their special relationship with the club), to formally recognise and meet with BST, which was by then the largest supporters’ organisation there had ever been at Blackpool FC.
The chairman conjured up the FPG instead. It seemed like a classic controlling mechanism, patently obvious to the thousands of supporters who would never fall for it.
One more member of the FPG has resigned this week and Blackpool Supporters’ Trust now calls upon the five remaining members to do so forthwith.
The Trust will continue to try to engage with the club, but in a democratic and properly mediated way, with an objective of building a stronger supporter mandate for the way our club is run – for the better advancement of the club, for the good of all fans and to the benefit of the town of Blackpool.