OPINION: Blackpool hit the right note with season ticket refund statement

Blackpool fans with season tickets have been given a welcome number of optionsBlackpool fans with season tickets have been given a welcome number of options
Blackpool fans with season tickets have been given a welcome number of options
Aside from Jay Spearing’s shock departure, the main talking point at Bloomfield Road last week was the club’s announcement about season ticket refunds.

Blackpool appear to have struck exactly the right note during what is a particularly awkward time given the current lack of finances.

The club released a well thought-out statement which outlined the various options available to supporters.

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Fans, should they wish, are able to leave the cash with the club, which Pool say will “greatly mitigate” the costs of Covid-19.

Alternatively, Seasiders can donate their tickets from the club’s five cancelled home matches to the NHS, emergency services, key workers or local schools, football clubs and youth groups.

Both are great gestures which, given the feedback I’ve seen so far, appear to be extremely popular among the fanbase, with a number of fans already taking up one of those options.

For those supporters that want their money back – and they’re well within their rights – they can claim either a pro-rata refund or pro-rata credit towards a 2020/21 season ticket.

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Speaking of which, for those who have asked me when the club will release further information on season tickets for next season, it’s simply impossible to say when there’s still so much uncertainty.

But we must applaud the club for its stance on refunds given the difficult position it currently finds itself in.

No club in the third tier is willing to give further cash away when they’re already staring down the barrel due to the pandemic, which has left them without matchday income for almost four months.

Pool’s hierarchy says it would cost in the region of £325,000, a huge figure at this level, should every supporter wish to claim a refund for the lost games.

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The club struck exactly the right tone with their statement and managed to cover all bases, making it abundantly clear fans should claim the refunds and won’t be made to feel guilty should they wish to do so.

The pandemic has caused financial hardships for thousands of us up and down the country, it’s not just football clubs and businesses that are affected.

Another question I’ve been asked on several occasions on social media is when the Seasiders can start making summer signings.

The simple answer to that question is whenever they like. While free agents won’t officially become Blackpool players until July 1, there’s nothing stopping the club from announcing deals once everything is agreed.

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Clubs at this level have already been active, in fact in the division below, Mansfield Town signed a couple of strikers in as many days last week – appearing to take a proactive approach, a luxury afforded to them thanks to the financial clout of their owners, the Radfords.

One would like to think Blackpool will be in a fairly similar position, in comparative terms to their League One rivals anyway. But of course, with no return date set in stone, there’s no rush whatsoever.

One of Pool’s main targets, Rotherham United striker Jerry Yates, had a 12-month extension on his contract triggered by the Millers last week.

The 23-year-old has struggled to force his way into Rotherham’s first-team plans, instead enjoying a successful loan spell with Swindon Town this season.

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I highly doubt Yates will be featuring for Paul Warne’s men in the Championship, so the decision to extend his contract will be the club’s way of ensuring they receive a fee for his services.

A figure of £500,000 has been mentioned, but I can’t see any club – neither Blackpool nor Sunderland, the two clubs most strongly linked – stumping up that amount.

One man who definitely won’t be joining Blackpool is Jak Alnwick, who sealed a move to Scottish side St Mirren last week.

It’s a shame it didn’t work out for the shot-stopper at Bloomfield Road, but there’s certainly no fault on his part.

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A permanent switch appeared a formality at one stage but his December injury put a stop to that, with Chris Maxwell coming in and consequently impressing head coach Neil Critchley.

It was fascinating to read quotes from Alnwick upon arrival at St Mirren, where he basically admitted he had no interest in being a number two and fighting for his place at Blackpool.

Some will question that attitude, with some asserting he should have more belief in himself to take control of that number one jersey.

But if you’re guaranteed first-team football week in, week out, who are we to argue? Anyway, I wish him the best of luck. He certainly deserves some good fortune.

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Finally, the FA’s latest figures on what clubs spent on agents made for interesting reading, with Blackpool spending just £98,848.

In fact, Fylde coast neighbours Fleetwood Town spent more last year (£178,535) than Blackpool have done in the last three years altogether (£178,086).

Both pale into comparison, however, with Sunderland, who have spent £2.8m and £1,346,373 respectively on agents in their two seasons in League One. Shambolic.