Pool’s Fans Progress Group announce expansion plans

Blackpool fans at Peterborough on the final day of last season
Blackpool fans at Peterborough on the final day of last season
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Blackpool FC’s “official” supporters’ group is opening its doors to new members.

The Fans Progress Group has received widespread criticism since its formation last August because its members were handpicked by Blackpool FC employees, having responded to an advertisement on the club’s website.

With that in mind, the FPG has responded to its critics in a statement, and announced they intend to open themselves up to more supporters.

“One of the challenges faced by the FPG is that it is selective and undemocratic, which we now propose to address,” said the group.

“We are establishing a membership scheme, from whose numbers we will begin to elect representatives to serve on the committee.

“Membership is free and open to any 2016/17 season ticket holder.”

The group was initially 12 strong but that number fell to just five after members dropped out.

FPG chairman Iain Tarpey was on the club’s panel to select a new manager in recent weeks and attends board meetings at Bloomfield Road and the group is now seeking a wider membership.

The statement continued: “As a member you will have access through your committee to senior staff and owners of Blackpool FC, and an opportunity to influence positive change where possible.

“Our aim is to encourage the club to move forward, improve relations with its loyal supporters and local community.

“We aim to try to work with other supporter groups to improve fan involvement and understanding regarding on and off the field issues which may affect us all.

“It is the FPG’s view that the future of our football club may be at risk if we do not attempt to address any issues of division that exist between the ownership of the club and its supporters.”

The largest unofficial supporters’ group, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, claims the group has no validity or relevance but the club has insisted that FPG is the only fans’ organisation it intends to deal with.

The announcement has been described as “divisive” and “cynical” by BST officials, who believe the club should instead be working with them.

BST chairman Steve Rowland said: “It’s a predictable step, to be honest.

“We feel this is a divisive step and one which disenfranchises Blackpool fans who aren’t season ticket holders.

“In my opinion, this is a cynical ploy by the club who should instead be working alongside BST.

“We have a perfectly good democratic supporters’ group, who have been trying for years to have dialogue with the club.”

As yet Blackpool FC have refused to acknowledge BST, instead insisting they will only deal with the Fans’ Progress Group.

And the FPG insist they can make a decent impact on the current problems, adding: “The chairperson of the FPG will continue to attend BFC Board meetings, whilst our committee will meet on quarterly with senior staff of the football club.

“We believe that a football club should be more than just a business and that its owners should respect the emotional and financial investment that supporters make and have made, sometimes over generations.

“It is the FPG’s view that the future of our football club may be at risk if we do not attempt to address any issues of division that exist between the ownership of the club and its supporters.”

For more on how to join the FPG, visit their website at www.blackpoolfpg.co.uk.