BST: Three years of Blackpool decline

One of the early BST meetings back in 2014
One of the early BST meetings back in 2014
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It is exactly three years since the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was formed (firstly as SISA), when a small group of fans deeply concerned for the future of Blackpool FC gathered in the No 1 Club in January 2013.

Blackpool were a Championship outfit then, “flush with cash” and had been desperately unlucky to miss out an immediate return to the Premier League when losing in the Play-off Final.

Although averaging 12,000 fans at home games and enjoying our most successful footballing period for 40 years, supporters were deeply worried about the direction the club was taking.

BSA was the “officially recognised” fans’ group and met occasionally with the chairman to discuss issues.

Many fans, including a decent proportion of BSA members, felt their interests were not being effectively represented at these meetings and that Karl Oyston treated the exercise of fan consultation with disdain.

The initial remit of the new Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was to provide a genuine ‘voice’ for Blackpool fans. We believed that only by being truly independent could this aim be achieved.

Now it seems the worst fears of those who set up the Trust have been realised.

An entirely undemocratic body created by the club, the Fans Progress Group, has replaced BSA and is even less representative.

The Oystons continue to rule the club in a ruthless fashion, not only reducing the fanbase to a fraction of the number regularly in attendance in 2013 but, by making enemies of their own customers and pushing the club’s support below the level it was before promotion to the Championship in 2007.

As for the football, Neil McDonald’s team have adopted a playing style that suggests fear of defeat is more the driving factor than the possibility of victory.

Instead of allowing the players freedom of expression, they are limited to a system that requires them to sacrifice displaying whatever talent and technique they have and the result is some of the worst football at Bloomfield Road since Paul Ince was in charge.

To many fans, this is mystifying. If a system proves successful, then a certain amount of pragmatism is acceptable. However, when that system proves to be both unattractive to watch and fails to get results, its merits are imaginary.

The manager’s persistence with this unsuccessful methodology, despite obvious and persistent failure, is an important contributing factor to his having lost the support of many Blackpool fans.

Equally important has been the negativity inherent in many of his public statements, along with his seeming inability to take responsibility for his circumstances.

When we lose, it is anyone’s fault but his own. Even the fans get blamed for not providing the “right” type of support. The evidence of the season so far suggests that Mr McDonald may well be out of his depth.

Where McDonald does gain sympathy is in regard to the limitations his employers have placed on him.

The fans recognise that he, just like previous managers, has received insufficient support from the company’s owners.