Last week Football Friday carried the first part of an open letter from Blackpool Supporters’ Trust to Owen Oyston. Here is the second part of that message.
You advised us when you rejected BST’s bid for the club: “I know there will be disappointments ahead – however, I really believe that we can get back to winning ways and return to the top flight.”
These are dark days indeed and your recent track record only serves to makes a hollow mockery of such empty rhetoric.
The facts speak for themselves and as a consequence the majority of supporters have lost faith in and respect for the abilities and intentions of the Oystons as owners of Blackpool FC.
A winning team might placate some people for a while, but the problems go far beyond results and to think it is about a few wins makes it obvious how little you understand supporters and the professional game.
This is wider than the football club. It is about the relationships between us all, the importance of community, the fact that we can only win together, that winning singly does not count. It is about football and life being a team game.
We all recognise football is big business,
But football clubs are community assets and ownership comes with a social responsibility to maintain standards of management and footballing for the benefit of current and future generations of fans and the good of the local community.
What has happened at Blackpool FC reflects what has happened to the town in recent years – the neglect and the under-investment have led to economic decline and severe social issues.
Therefore, we have a vision for the future of Blackpool – the town and the football club – that is built on a broad and inclusive partnership between the club and the fans.
It is about reclaiming our club for the community. Our ambitions for town, club, community and the fans can be clearly and concisely stated .
We would like to see Blackpool thriving as a resort with a vibrant football club at its heart, so we are intent on restoring local pride in Blackpool FC, to promote the best aspects of the region and to help kick-start regeneration in the town through a focus on footballing success.
For the club we would like to see clear, comprehensive plans made for both the playing side and the infrastructure of the club.
We would like to see responsible ownership with a focus on the future, a fit for purpose training ground that doubles as a community asset, proper and regular investment in a decent, well-maintained playing surface and fairly priced football and good quality of service to all supporters on match days
In addition we would like to see football day revenues re-invested into the club, a cap on owner profit-taking and a linking executive pay to reward success.
For the community we would like to build for the future by promoting sustainable long-term investment in the community facilities and activities by the club.
We would like to see the implementing a comprehensive programme supporting grass roots football on the Fylde coast, providing the means to increase the number of qualified coaches locally, promoting youth players into the club to give local talent a platform and a progression path.
We want to see Blackpool developing community projects that will benefit the lives of local people – improving health and morale through sporting initiatives.
For the supporters, we are committed to working towards increased representation and engagement, by which we mean a minimum 20 per cent supporter shareholding in the club, the stadium and associated amenities.
We would like to see elected supporter representation on the board, open and regular communication between the club and the fans, a growing of the fan-base through active engagement in the club as well as the encouragement for a new generation of local children to follow the Seasiders by giving them a team and an ethos they can be proud of.
The new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage is on record as saying: “I have made no secret that I want fans to be placed at the heart of their football clubs.”
To some, significant supporter involvement in the running of a club may seem like a radical idea.
Our contention is that the fans are the heart and soul of football.
It is our hard-earned money through the turnstiles, the club shops, the satellite TV contracts that bankrolls the game.
Our having a material stake in how our club is run seems such a simple, sensible and inclusive idea, who – with the best interests of the game at heart – would not embrace it?
We are part of a structural change that will gain momentum in English football in the same way it has done in Germany and Spain.
The government’s Expert Working Group on Football Supporter Ownership and Engagement is due to report to the Minister at the end of November and Tracey Crouch has promised to: “take on as many of their (the Expert Working Group) recommendations as possible.”
We believe the Supporters’ Trust is of vital importance to the future well-being of the club. The concept of a Trust is fundamentally different from any other sort of supporters’ organisation.
It is an independent, democratic and representative fans’ group, working to bring about significant changes in the way our famous club is operated. It is also a legal entity with the right to own and operate a sporting enterprise. You may have closed the door in a peremptory manner on our initial bid to buy the club but our campaign to bring about progressive change at Bloomfield Road and to reclaim our club will continue by all peaceful and legitimate means.
The collective will of the supporters should not and will not be ignored.