BST: What’s the real agenda behind the meeting?

Karl Oyston at a recent game
Karl Oyston at a recent game
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Much the talk and a lot of speculation since Saturday morning has revolved around that posting on the club’s website about an ‘Invitation To Be Extended To Supporters’ Groups’ to attend a meeting on March 10.

That invitation promised, among other things, that “regular discussions held between chairman Karl Oyston and leader of Blackpool Council Simon Blackburn, and a subsequent letter received from Coun. Williams, would be included on the agenda” and that the meeting would be “attended by senior Blackpool Football Club staff, including chairman Karl Oyston.”

It is interesting that the invitation, when it arrived, came from BFC Community Trust.

The letter from Rev Mike Ward, vice-chairman of the trustees, stated: “On behalf of Blackpool Football Club Community Trust, I would like to extend an invite to a member of your committee to a meeting in the Farm Box at Bloomfield Road on March 10 2016 at 7pm. The meeting will be an opportunity for each supporters’ group to find out fully about the work the Trust does in the local community and anything else the groups would like to discuss with all parties.”

BST was, and is, puzzled as to exactly what the objectives of this meeting are, how focused it can expect to be and why it has been called at all when there is already an attempt at mediation on the table from Coun Williams (which is still awaiting a response from the Oystons).

We also wonder why just one member from each of the autonomous fans’ organisations has been invited while the entire club-appointed Fans Progress Group will be in attendance.

If it were specifically a meeting about the work of the BFC Community Trust and the problems it is encountering at present, that would be a relatively straightforward matter.

For those who don’t know, BFC Community Trust has done and continues to do some excellent work in the local community.

Blackpool Supporters’ Trust has been aware for some time that the efforts of BFC Community Trust have been adversely affected by the ongoing issues between supporters and the owners of the football club. These issues have harmed the reputation and endeavours of the Community Trust because it is viewed in some quarters as an extension of the Oystons’ regime.

We have had informal talks with Community Trustees dating back to last summer.

We are supportive of the aims of the Community Trust and are sympathetic to the negative impact the troubles at the club have had on its work.

With that in mind, and because working for the good of the community is also a central part of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust aims, we wrote formally to the chairman of BFC Community Trust several months ago offering to work in partnership with them on any community-related initiatives.

We never received a response or even an acknowledgement of that well-intentioned approach. We have to ask ourselves why not, when it seemed like such a logical pairing?

And given that failure to respond over many months, why this approach right now from BFC Community Trust to talk about the Trust’s work “and anything else the groups would like to discuss with all parties”?

We await suitable clarification. When we have it, we will consult with our members about whether or not to accept such an invitation, and what we should attempt to achieve if we do attend the proposed meeting.