Gazette opinion: Sensible Simon strikes right note with excited Blackpool fans

It is actions, not words, that define the success of any owner, but Simon Sadler certainly hit the right tone with supporters yesterday.

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 1:11 pm
Simon says the future is bright for Blackpool Football Club

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The Gazette's report from last night's fans' forum with new Blackpool FC owner S...

The 49-year-old appears to have his priorities in the right place. A lifelong fan, it’s in his interest to ensure the Seasiders are a sustainable, successful football club for 20 to 30 years - a timeframe he set out himself - and not just search for instant success.

Some will be hoping Sadler opens his chequebook and flashes the cash straight away, but those people will be sadly disappointed.

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Such an approach will not be beneficial for the club who, let’s remember, are reliant on Sadler to stay afloat in the short-term, as was revealed in the recent court documents.

The club will be built step-by-step, money isn’t going to be thrown at things from day one.

The phrase “incremental improvement” was used on more than one occasion at last night’s fans’ forum when discussing both the squad and the club’s infrastructure.

Clearly, a new training ground is right at the top of Sadler’s list of priorities. That will not only be welcomed by the fanbase but also the players, who have become accustomed to training at a facility that is frankly not fit for purpose and hasn’t been for years, maybe even decades.

The club has already held discussions with the council about potential sites and further talks with take place now Sadler is in charge. The recent link-up between the club and council can only help with that search.

It won’t just be a few pitches and some offices, either. Sadler is keen to construct a facility that can be accessed by the community and used by both the first-team and the academy, similar to the one already in use at Poolfoot.

Such a facility doesn’t get built in the blink of an eye, it will take three or four years to come to fruition.

Speaking to both the media and supporters yesterday, Sadler made his aspirations clear: the Championship is the aim and he wants to get there in two years.

To do that, he knows there needs to be improvements to the playing squad. That, he assured fans, is already in hand. Indeed, an ‘exciting’ winger is expected to be unveiled at Bloomfield Road today.

It’s important to note the club’s four new signings to date were all identified before Sadler’s arrival. It is from this point onwards where you’d expect the quality of the club’s acquisitions to be taken to the next level.

If Sadler was a little guarded during his media interviews on Monday morning, he was in his element at the fans’ forum in the evening.

The businessman provided a measured performance, where he outlined his ambitious - yet sensible - plans for the future.

He was at ease with the 80 supporters in attendance and even managed to throw in the odd quip about the man he’s replacing at the top of Blackpool’s hierarchy. As you might expect, that went down well.

I was intrigued that no one in the room asked Sadler about the future of manager Terry McPhillips, although he did touch on the subject on a couple of occasions.

However, it wasn’t necessarily what Sadler said that was noteworthy, it what was left unsaid.

“We want to get out of League One and stay in the Championship and Terry has been tasked with doing his bit towards that,” he said, somewhat coyly.

Sadler confirmed to me earlier in the day that talks had taken place with McPhillips about a new contract, but that has been rumoured for a while. So why hasn’t it already been signed and announced?

Sadler clearly wants a more entertaining product and, while a 10th-placed finish was more than satisfactory last season, I don’t think Sadler will be satisfied with it this coming campaign.

Sadler appeared very confident McPhillips will be operating with a top-10 budget in League One this season, if not pushing for top five. Clearly he’ll want to see a return.

Either way, things are very much looking up at Bloomfield Road and for the first time in many fans’ lives the club have an owner they can be proud of.

Blackpool might not be the envy of the Football League, as one former chairman put it. Not yet, anyway.

But the stepping stones are being prepared and the club is finally heading in the right direction. Perhaps unicorns do exist after all.