Neil Critchley prepares to lead Blackpool to higher level

Preparations are already under way for Blackpool’s tilt at the Championship.

By Matt Scrafton
Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 8:00 am

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After a six-year absence, the Seasiders will line up in England’s second tier next season following Sunday’s Wembley triumph.

Neil Critchley’s men recovered from a horror start, conceding after just 48 seconds, to beat Lincoln City 2-1 in the League One play-off final.

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Neil Critchley going up in the world with Blackpool at Wembley

There’s no time to rest, though, as Pool must switch their focus to recruitment in a key summer for the club.

Speaking on Sky Sports, chief executive Ben Mansford discussed the plans.

He said: “Critch is incredibly well organised and we’ve got a really strong team behind him as well, led by (head of football operations) John Stephenson.

“We’ve been preparing two lists for the last two weeks (for the Championship and for League One) – but the list looks more exciting to both the supporters and the club now.

“You look at the final make-up of the Championship with us in it and some teams there we want to pit ourselves against.

“You’re already beginning to think about talking to this agent on the way home.

“Or talking to this player on the way home and thinking, ‘Right Critch, nobble this player up on the bus home’.

“All of those were talked about over some bacon and eggs on Monday morning.”

Away from recruitment, Blackpool must also submit their retained list to the EFL by Thursday.

The deadline for producing such lists was May 15 but clubs involved in the play-offs were given extra time.

Blackpool have four days after the play-off final to submit theirs.

Contracts do not have to be signed and sealed by this date – Blackpool are simply required to indicate which out-of-contract players they will be offering new deals to.

Negotiations over contracts can then continue as long as required.

Thursday’s deadline applies only to submitting the retained list to the EFL – the club can release the information publicly whenever it chooses.

Critchley, his staff and the club hierarchy have some big decisions to make on the contractual front this week, with a host of deals set to expire.

Alex Fojticek, Stuart Moore, Jack Sims, James Husband, Ollie Turton, Luke Garbutt, Cameron Antwi, Ben Garrity, Nathan Shaw, Grant Ward, Liam Feeney, Sullay Kaikai, Brad Holmes, Adi Yussuf and Gary Madine are all out-of contract this summer.

The Seasiders hold the option to extend the deals of Fojticek, Husband, Antwi, Garrity, Ward, Shaw, Holmes and Yussuf.

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