Gazette Comment – BFC shambles must end

Blackpool manager Jose Riga
Blackpool manager Jose Riga
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You would like to think there was some decency left in football, but fans of Blackpool FC must be wondering today if those in control of their beloved club understand the word.

The story we have reported for the last few days is that Jose Riga’s days at Bloomfield Road were numbered.

Today's Gazette

Today's Gazette

This appeared to be pretty well backed up by chairman Karl Oyston’s lambasting of the fans’ favourite in The Gazette yesterday as he branded his manager unprofessional for going home to Belgium – apparently without permission – during last week’s international break.

Oyston said he wanted to “speak personally” to Riga.

But rather than the showdown talks we were expecting yesterday Oyston was said to be wooing a potential new boss in the form of Burton Albion’s Gary Rowett.

Rowett, in turn, decided to stay put, a decision which pretty much leaves Blackpool in an unholy mess today.

Karl Oyston. Images below, Jose Riga and Gary Rowett

Karl Oyston. Images below, Jose Riga and Gary Rowett

The shameful thing is, and what will not sit well with not only those connected to the club, but anyone with a shred of common decorum, is Oyston set off for the talks with a manager still in situ.

Clearly there are problems between Oyston and Riga, but surely the decent thing to do is if your current manager is persona non grata you tell him.

Football may sometimes appear to be operating outside normal working practices but it shouldn’t do.

Imagine how you would feel if your boss headed off, while you were in work, looking to sign up your replacement.

Burton Albion's manager Gary Rowett during the Pre-Season friendly at The Pirelli Stadium, Burton-Upon-Trent. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 2, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Burton. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire

Burton Albion's manager Gary Rowett during the Pre-Season friendly at The Pirelli Stadium, Burton-Upon-Trent. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 2, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Burton. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire

Is there anyway back for Jose Riga? It looks unlikely, and you would have to say he may even be looking at a case of constructive dismissal – the definition of which reads “when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct.”

This dreadful, shambolic, shameful situation at Blackpool FC has to stop.

Have the fans not suffered enough? Is it not bad enough Blackpool’s beloved team have gone from the Premier League to a laughing stock in three years with a string of broken promises ringing in their ears.

All talk of being a “cash rich” club continues to anger those who stump up their own hard earned brass each week to watch, not so much the once famed entertaining football, but a sub-standard offering punctuated by the latest anti-Oyston protest.

Football should be fun, Saturday afternoons spent with mates or families enjoying that heady mix of joy and heartache in equal intoxicating measures.

But who the hell has had any fun at Bloomfield Road recently? Certainly not the players or the fans.

Riga may well leave with a record of played six, lost six, points won – zero.

Strangely for a manager with that record, he would leave a hero to many fans for the simple fact he appears to not want to play ball the Karl Oyston way.

Pool’s heavily criticised chairman has promised much in the last two years, but let’s face it has delivered very little for the fans to cheer.

Riga arrived as the popular choice, known as a shrewd tactician and someone who has a footballing philosophy many in the game reportedly admire.

Fans were told that, after several seasons of upheaval following the departure of the messiah of Bloomfield Road Ian Holloway, the new man would be backed by “a new way of doing things”.

What they’ve seen from the outside is, sadly, much of the same.

Is Riga blameless for the total mess the club finds itself in? It’s a hard one to gauge. Outside of aftermatch press conferences he has said nothing at all publicly.

Fans clearly read this as a rebel ready to take Oyston on.

But when a chairman as infamously stubborn as Oyston holds 100 per cent of the power there was only going to be one winner in a battle of wills.

Cue the ludicrous goings on of the last 10 days. Transfer deadline day had the rest of the football world buzzing with talk of “who’s moving?”, “who are we signing?”

No need for a Sky Sports’ camera crew camped outside Bloomfield Road as, while Blackpool clearly needed reinforcements to help them reverse their worst ever start to a season, the inactivity was hugely frustrating.

Then again with a manager and chairman both away from the club that day what could the fans expect? The same as usual, very little.

Given the fallout, by Saturday last week we were reporting the inevitable – the Belgian manager’s stay at Bloomfield Road was drawing to an end, as appears clear from yesterday’s events.

Riga will, I’m sure, tell his story when the time comes.

Sadly, despite repeated efforts over the last few weeks to strike up a normal local newspaper/football manager relationship none was forthcoming, calls were never returned and training ground gates were locked.

The inference has been he received no backing in the transfer market while his assistant manager – who jumped ship last week – claimed he wasn’t paid and had never worked for such an “unprofessional” set up.

Communication with the owners – which has been hit and miss over the years – has improved of late.

Oyston has spoken several times to The Gazette over the last few weeks. But given his standing with many fans – and there are many who say they do not believe a word which leaves his lips – this has sparked more disquiet.

The Gazette has been criticised by some for giving Oyston “a platform”.

But, as with the club secretary’s offerings last season, fans deserve to know what’s going on through official channels – even if they don’t like what is said, or the person who’s saying it.

Of course, we would all have clearly welcomed more communication from the playing side over the last few weeks – even more, we would have loved to have seen the Riga Revolution as heralded, not more crisis.

Blackpool FC should be the envy of Lancashire – not the laughing stock.

And that is the real crime here. Something pretty drastic has to change and change now.

The club – seen by many as damaged goods – is clearly in danger of free-falling through the leagues and turning off a new generation of Tangerine-wearing fans.

It’s been said many times over recent months by The Gazette that those in charge need to take a real hard look at themselves and ask whether they have the conviction or the interest in transforming the fortunes of a proud old club that has a cherished place in so many people’s hearts.

Because from where many people are sitting right now this appears to be no more than some kind of game – and it’s not the game the paying and passionate audience wants to see.

So what’s it to be Karl?