OPINION: Blackpool and Portsmouth both know what it’s like to be in the mire

I could quite easily have used this column to vent yet more anger at Bury’s situation and to extol the virtues of improved football regulation.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 11:00 am
Blackpool and Portsmouth have both faced uncertain futures in the not-too-distant past
Blackpool and Portsmouth have both faced uncertain futures in the not-too-distant past

But fortunately for Blackpool, unlike the troubled Shakers, they’re lucky enough to have a game of football to look forward to this weekend. Quite a big one, too.

Bury’s problems will hit home for Blackpool fans more than most, given it could have quite easily been the Seasiders a year or two ago.

When supporters felt they had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn to, they were lucky in some respects that Valeri Belokon was able to launch a costly legal process against the Oyston family.

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Yes, the four-year boycott made a huge impact, starving the Oystons of revenue.

But, without the High Court wrangle, supporters would have been left waiting a lot longer to seal their return to Bloomfield Road.

The receivership process, compared to Bolton Wanderers’ protracted administration, was fairly pain-free and swift.

Fortunately Paul Cooper stuck to his timeline, selling the club after four months of tireless work, and Simon Sadler swooped in to breath new life into this glorious football club.

No such hero was waiting in the wings for Bury, leaving League One with 23 sides, meaning just three clubs will face relegation.

Such is the cut-throat, selfish nature of football, Blackpool will be left to reflect on having to play two fewer games than expected.

Simon Grayson’s side will now have free weekends on October 19 and January 11, and Sadler and co will lose out on some much-needed revenue.

Compared to Bury’s misery, it’s really not of huge significance, but football clubs still have to take these things into account.

The visit of Bury to Bloomfield Road would likely have attracted a five-figure attendance. That shortfall has to be met.

The club’s books have faced high levels of scrutiny from the EFL and Blackpool are expected to make significant losses this season.

Yes it’s selfish, but those losses will now have only worsened.

The board will be hoping for a bumper crowd this weekend when Portsmouth make the long trip up from the south coast.

Last season’s beaten play-off semi-finalists have high hopes for promotion from the third tier this season, but they have endured a mixed start to the new campaign.

When the fixtures first came out, this game on paper appeared to be the toughest match-up of Pool’s opening month. Perhaps that might not now be the case?

Pressure is already mounting on manager Kenny Jackett, who has overseen just the one league victory so far this season.

In fairness, Pompey have played a game fewer after their scheduled fixture against Rotherham United was postponed last week.

Expectations are high at Fratton Park though, and a defeat on Saturday could spell danger for the experienced boss.

It is fitting that, given the troubles at Gigg Lane this week, Blackpool host a club that have also been through the mire in recent times with rogue owners.

Portsmouth supporters were always gracious in their support to Blackpool fans when they were enduring their fight against the Oystons, even going as far to join in with their protests.

They knew what it felt like to be ignored, to feel completely helpless, to have no outlet to air their grievances.

You’d like to think their message to the EFL will be made loud and clear at Bloomfield Road on Saturday.

I’d expect Nathan Delfouneso to come back into contention after missing last weekend’s game with a hamstring injury.

There’s also a chance Matty Virtue could make his first appearance of the season, although the fixture might come a week too soon for the midfielder.

Next week is the final chance the Seasiders have to add to their squad before the transfer deadline closes on September 2.

Grayson is unsurprisingly still keen to do more business and I’d expect more incomings and outgoings in the coming days.

But do I expect to see Blackpool doing business right up until the deadline? Not if Grayson can help it.