Gazette opinion: Have Blackpool FC just bagged themselves the dream owner?

Blackpool fans can look forward to a bright future
Blackpool fans can look forward to a bright future
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If Blackpool fans had dreamt of the perfect owner, and I’m sure plenty of them have during the last few years, there’s a good chance he might have looked something like Simon Sadler.

READ MORE: 12 things you need to know about new Blackpool FC owner Simon Sadler

Given the current state of the English game, with rogue owners seemingly permitted to do as they wish, clubs falling into administration, failing to pay their players and fulfil their fixtures, I’m always reluctant to talk up the people that are in charge of our clubs, our institutions.

I vividly remember feeling a sense of uneasiness at the sight and sound of the four sides at Sheffield Wednesday’s iconic Hillsborough stadium standing up as one and chanting “there’s only one Milan Mandaric”.

Owners are there to take care of our community assets, not seek hero worship.

Surely it’s the men on the pitch who deserve the adulation, not those in the directors’ box? Although there are obvious exceptions.

There are good owners out there, of course. You only have to look across the county to see the sterling work Andy Holt is doing at Accrington Stanley for starters.

You don’t necessarily have to be a local lad done good, either. Those in charge at Leicester City, the Srivaddhanaprabha Family, appear to ‘get it’. But is there such a thing as the perfect custodian of a football club?

Yet, saying all that, if you were to draw up a list of requirements for the person to take over your beloved club, there’s a good chance Sadler would tick every box.

Born in Blackpool? Tick. Educated in Blackpool? Tick. A genuine lifelong fan? Tick. A successful businessman? Tick. Well connected? Tick. Doesn’t already own a club? Tick. Someone who isn’t interested in the limelight, as some owners seem to be? Tick.

As soon as Sadler’s interest in the Seasiders was made public, it became clear - in my mind anyway - that he was the best fit.

But being the right man for the job to begin with, on the face of it at least, is one thing. Proving it is another. The proof will very much be in the pudding.

But Sadler has certainly got off to an excellent start. Not only has his arrival produced a surge in positivity across the Fylde coast, which should surely spark a huge rise in season ticket sales over the coming weeks, he’s also made quite a touching gesture, too.

This afternoon, just an hour or two after he was confirmed as the club’s new chief, Sadler donated over £1,300 to the Muckers Supporters’ Group’s charity bike ride, helping them reach their £5,000 target in the process.

A small gesture, perhaps, but it would have won the hearts and minds of the supporters in one fell swoop.

Sadler doesn’t appear to be sort of the person to label himself a Blackpool fan just for the sake of it, unless like his predecessor.

He attended his first game at Bloomfield Road in 1977 with his father. He later became a regular on the West Paddock, naming Andy Garner as his favourite player to watch.

Even when he moved to Hong Kong, via Moscow, for work purposes, he still made the effort to fly back for the Seasiders’ memorable play-off final triumph at Wembley in 2010.

He is also the proud owner of Stanley Matthews’ 1953 FA Cup final winners’ medal, which is currently on loan to the National Football Museum in Manchester. His attachment to the club is clearly genuine.

A quick (very quick) word for the man Sadler is replacing, the man who from now on shall remain nameless.

The deal Sadler has struck means he has a 96 per cent stake in the club. The 20 per cent, formerly owned by Valeri Belokon, which could have transferred to the ‘Blackpool fan since he was two’ had he ever repaid his debt, has now been wiped out.

That ugly chapter in the club’s history can now be forgotten, for good.

To make Sadler’s transition into ownership as smooth as possible, he’s made the very wise decision to keep on the current board - at least for the next few months, anyway.

Michael Bolingbroke, Ben Hatton, Ian Currie and Tim Fielding have done a marvellous job in getting the club into a fit state for the new man. One can only imagine what they had to deal with in those opening days and weeks.

Possessing people of their talent can only be a good thing for the football club, and from what I’ve experienced I’ve no doubt they will continue to be a resounding success.

A word for the receivers, too, who not only managed to navigate themselves through the minefield that was Blackpool Football Club back in February to get us to this point, to sell the club on schedule, but also ended up virtually completing two sales in the same day.

Rubin and Partners, who are also administrators at Bolton Wanderers, appear close to agreeing a deal with a new consortium.

Some feat, as my colleague from the Bolton News Marc Iles put it. It’s about time these two proud Lancashire clubs, who shared the Wembley turf back in ‘53, enjoyed some good times once again.

And last, but by no means least, I leave my final words for the supporters. Those thousands of battle-weary individuals who have appeared victorious.

As Christine Seddon, chair of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, so eloquently put it to me - this is the fitting conclusion to their long battle. The icing on the cake, if you will. An end to a spell of turmoil no football fan should ever have to go through.

The most despised owner in British football history is toast and the football club now has a genuine fan in charge. If that doesn't make you happy, nothing will.