Normally at this stage of the season the main talking point would be about who’s been signed in the transfer window to strengthen the squad – whether it be to make a push for the play-offs or to keep relegation at bay.
Not so in 2016 at Blackpool, where it appears even the manager has taken a vow of silence on the subject. Instead, in a week of battling displays by a spirited Seasiders team, it is once again events off the field that have made the headlines.
We suppose that most people would agree this is not a healthy state of affairs.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust can’t condone some of the inadvisable things a few passionate fans have said or done in recent months, but the appetite of the owners to pursue supporters through the law courts is both a cause and a symptom of exactly how unhealthy this state of affairs has actually become.
The demise of Blackpool FC has been rapid and distressing.
However, by far the most disturbing aspect of the last couple of years is the failure of the Oystons to make genuine attempts to change behaviours or to engage meaningfully with the supporters. We have to discount the Fans Progress Group as a cosmetic company exercise, no matter how well-intentioned the six remaining selectees are.
On top of what was originally perceived as less than fitting custodianship of our club following relegation from the Premier League, the arrogant stance of the owners, their refusal to talk to the Supporters’ Trust and the spate of litigations they subsequently instigated have all contributed to the huge groundswell of ill-will that exists towards the ruling family.
The 12,000 empty seats at every game are a stark enough indicator of that, but even many of the 4,000 who still regularly pass through the turnstiles on a match-day feel torn – they love to watch and support their team but they don’t have a kind word to say about the men who own and run their football club.
We wonder whether that concerns the Oystons at all, given that they won’t talk to us. We can only guess – but we suspect that it doesn’t.
In that case, what is the prognosis for Blackpool FC? Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was formed to be an independent voice of the fans and never in the history of our club has there been a greater need for that voice to be heard.
Most of us are more heartbroken than angry that the club we love and have followed for many years has become occupied territory, governed by those who appear not care for football, the fans or the community.
In the language of the Companies Act, we do not feel that the owners of the company that is Blackpool FC are giving due regard to the interests of its stakeholders (that’s us, the fans) or to the impact of its operations on the community (that’s us, the fans and the wider social and business neighbourhood).
Therefore BST, on behalf of our members and all Blackpool fans, will be writing formally to the Football Association expressing grave concern about recent events at the club and asking for a formal investigation on ethical grounds into the chairing and management of Blackpool FC.
The next public meeting of the Trust is this Saturday at 1pm upstairs in the No. 1 Club on Bloomfield Road. All are welcome.