This week’s column can only be about one thing: Saturday’s community march and demonstration.
Our appeal to everyone who cares about Blackpool FC and its importance to the town is simple: get on the streets and make your feelings heard by all lawful means.
We need a massive show of love for our club and we need to send an unmistakable message to the Oystons that it belongs to the fans.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust believes fans are the heart and soul of any football club. Active numbers may grow or diminish according to the success of the team, but once a supporter has forged a true connection with a club that bond is hard to break.
BST is certain the fans are the only group who can truly be expected to act as guardians of the club, having its best interest and success as their primary consideration.
Any successful club needs to combine achievement on the pitch with long-term viability as a business. However, without a profound connection to its supporters, upon which professional football depends, a club becomes like any other business, deserving of no more interest and achieving no more community benefit than any other trading company.
Anyone watching TV advertising will see how businesses try desperately and at enormous financial cost to develop the deep loyalty for their brands that football clubs achieve with minimal effort.
At Blackpool FC, our loyalty has truly been tested. The love and sense of belonging that the majority of supporters feel has been stretched to breaking point.
For many, it is as if the owners have taken advantage of that loyalty and acted with complete disdain for the emotional bond fans have with the club. Money is not at the root of our relationship – feelings are.
Feelings have been running high for several years. Given the absence of any notable changes in the way the owners run the club, conduct themselves publicly or deal with supporters, it becomes increasingly likely that those feelings will manifest themselves in ways not appropriate. This must not be allowed to happen.
However provocative the Oystons may appear, they should be free from harassment, intimidation or prejudicial treatment of any kind.
BST is implacably opposed to the Oystons’ methods, yet supporters must retain the moral high ground and conduct ourselves lawfully and as the very best of what it is to be Blackpool fans. If we fail to do so, then any claim we have to be the guardians of the club and its traditions will be hollow.
Every supporter must be free from blame, criticism or attack by fellow fans. We are a club at breaking point, severely damaged by the mismanagement. It will need all supporters pulling together to restore it to anything like full health. We cannot afford in-fighting.
This conflict is sometimes incorrectly described as a civil war. At Blackpool, supporter does not fight supporter and we must avoid that at all costs. When we turn upon each other there will be nothing left worth saving. What we are actually engaged in is a form of revolution, with a view to regime change.
Join us at 10 am on Church Street, or outside the Town Hall at 11 or the Comedy Carpet at 11.15 and march with us to Bloomfield Road. Help us determine a positive future for our club.
Show those that own the club and run the game that money does not speak loudest – that football clubs will always belong to their communities.