Small cup crowds make big statement, say Blackpool fans’ group

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Blackpool’s leading fans’ group says the low crowd for the FA Cup third-round tie against Barnsley “speaks volumes” about public dissatisfaction with the club’s owners.

There’s little evidence of cup fever around Bloomfield Road, despite the possibility of a trip to manager Gary Bowyer’s former club Blackburn in the next round at the end of the month.

That will be the reward for the winners of next Tuesday’s Yorkshire replay between Pool and Barnsley, following Saturday’s goalless draw which saw home supporters heavily outnumbered by their Tykes counterparts.

Travelling supporters made up 3,370 of the official attendance of 4,875. That means only 1,505 Blackpool fans were present for an FA Cup third round tie against a side two levels above them – though even that figure looked generous.

Chances are home fans were outnumbered by around three to one.

The latest low attendance comes after only 1,764 showed up for last month’s second round home clash with Brackley Town.

And another meagre turn-out looks certain for tonight’s visit of Wycombe in the third round of the Checkatrade Trophy.

Steve Rowlands, chairman of the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST), says the crowd figures prove the boycott of home games is having its desired effect.

He said: “Although it was the first time for a few years that the Seasiders have enjoyed a third round FA Cup appearance, the fact that so few Blackpool fans paid to watch the game speaks volumes about the extent of dissatisfaction with the current owners.

“The official crowd was the lowest on record for a third round FA Cup game at Bloomfield Road.”

BST members distributed hundreds of leaflets to Barnsley fans before Saturday’s game highlighting the plight of the club. Dozens of Barnsley fans sent messages of support on social media before and after the game, many pledging to observe the Not A Penny More campaign and buy no products sold by the club.

Rowlands added: “The flyer explained just why Blackpool is a club in crisis and asked for the support of visiting fans in the ethical boycott.

“It was well received by the travelling Barnsley contingent, who were very sympathetic to Blackpool’s plight.

“Barnsley fans still remember their own history of troubles with previous owners who didn’t have the best interests of their football club uppermost on their agenda.

“Most visiting supporters were happy to give their custom to the pubs, pie shops and chippies around South Shore – those businesses that have been hit hardest by the fall of Blackpool since Premier League and Championship days – rather than spend money inside the ground. Their down-to-earth solidarity and support was very heartening.

“The Trust hopes that the impact of Saturday’s ethical boycott will not be lost on the town, the football authorities and the current owners.

“The Oystons should seriously consider putting a fair market value on the football club and entertaining offers from parties who are prepared to make significant investment where the Oystons are not, in the ongoing development of the infrastructure and team at Blackpool FC.”