Blackpool Football Club needs YOU.
That is the message to the people of Blackpool from the club’s new board, which is calling on the community to give its full backing to the Seasiders to ensure a bright future.
Board member Michael Bolingbroke told supporters at Wednesday night’s fans’ forum that he wants to see 10,000 supporters pack out Bloomfield Road in each of the club’s last four home games of the season.
As it stands 6,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s fixture against Plymouth Argyle.
The board, in situ under the management of receiver Paul Cooper following Owen Oyston’s removal, are tasked with getting the club on a sound footing before it’s sold to new owners.
But to drum up further interest from potential buyers, the board stressed the importance of packing out the stadium to show what a vibrant club they could be getting their hands on.
“Around 8,000 for this Saturday would be good, but what would make me really happy is if 10,000 come on Saturday,” Mr Bolingbroke said.
For Blackpool’s homecoming clash against Southend United earlier this month, the game that marked the beginning of a new era for the football club, 15,500 home supporters filled the stadium in an occasion that is sure to live long in the memory.
Three days later, 7,100 returned for the midweek 1-1 draw against Pool’s main rivals for a play-off spot, Doncaster Rovers.
It’s not just the club’s board members that are calling for fans to turn out in their droves, manager Terry McPhillips is hoping to see the ground bouncing come 3pm on Saturday.
He said: “I don’t know what the attendance is going to be but if we can get 10,000, that would be fantastic, wouldn’t it?
“Having their support on a Saturday afternoon like they did against Southend and Doncaster after that, it’s brilliant and hopefully we can come up with the goods.”
Attracting large numbers of fans won’t only satisfy prospective new owners, it will also help persuade the EFL the club is on a sound financial footing.
The board has now submitted all of the evidence it was asked to provide and is now awaiting a decision from the EFL on the potential 12-point deduction, which could be made as soon as today.
Any resolution made after today means the points deduction will apply for next season rather than this campaign.
As it stands, the Seasiders being docked 12 points would leave them just two points above the relegation zone.
“It’s now in their hands and they must do what they must do,” Mr Bolingbroke said.
“We hope their decision will be rapid, as in this week, and we hope they won’t give us the points deduction.
“They wanted to know the club was solvent, so without sounding blindingly obvious, the more people that come to the last four games, the more it will help with the EFL decision.
“It will also help with new owners.
“The more vibrant the club feels, the more bouncy and together it is, the more people there will be thinking they want to take this club forward.
“I’d like it sorted now, the sooner it’s announced the sooner the cloud will be removed.”
‘We need to look after our club’
A large majority of Blackpool fans have boycotted the club’s games in the last four years to drive Oyston out of the club.
Now that has been achieved, it is the fans’ “duty” to help the club rebuild according to Christine Seddon, chair of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust.
She told The Gazette: “We fought long and hard to get our club back and we voted with our feet before, now we need to vote with our feet again and come into the ground.
“It is our club and we’ve said this all along, so we’ve got to take responsibility for it.
“We’ve got to nurture it, we’ve got to look after it and it’s down to every single one of us to do as much as we can to help the club rebuild.
“We know there’s a great deal to be done but whatever we can, we should be doing.
“We need the noise, we need the support and of course we need the finances flowing as well, so it’s hugely important and it’s our responsibility. We need to deliver now.”
She did, however, acknowledge it was difficult for some supporters to commit themselves on a Saturday when they already have prior engagements.
She added: “I do understand it’s quite difficult because there’s a lot of people that I’ve been speaking to who have set things in motion, perhaps have taken jobs which sees them work at weekends, so I’m not too downhearted at the moment thinking ‘where is everybody?’
“That’s because I know there are a lot of individuals out there who are trying desperately to rearrange their rearrangements so to speak because they didn’t expect things to change so quickly.
“Me personally, I missed Bradford because I had a birthday party, I have another one when we’re away at Luton and I’m missing Peterborough at home because I have a wedding. These are all things that have been in my diary for a long time.
“So there is that side of it and we appreciate people have made those arrangements and, going forward, are having to re-think their arrangements because they’ve now got a football club to support.
“But that’s what we need to do and that’s what we said we’d do, so we need to get on with it now. It’s very important.
“I’d like to see between 8,000 and 10,000 on Saturday and I see no reason why that isn’t achievable. Let’s make one final push.
“Come on people of Blackpool, this is your club and we need to look after it.”
The fans’ return to Bloomfield Road was a momentous day.
It marked the start of a new chapter at Bloomfield Road, one full of hope in stark contrast to the anger and – worse – apathy that set in under the miserable final years of the old regime.
The supporters fought hard for their club and can rightly be proud of what they have achieved. The national plaudits for their efforts were fully deserved.
But this is not the end.
The search for an owner goes on. The spectre of a 12-point deduction still hangs overhead. The club is still rebuilding.
The fans are a huge part of the club and the key to building a brighter future.
They have the power to convince potential investors, reassure the EFL over the club’s financial security and spur the players on.
There is a renewed sense of pride around Blackpool FC and that needs to be nurtured.
Credit to the fans who stayed united in the darkest days. That must now continue as the club’s latest chapter unfolds.