Blackpool fans have suffered long enough.
Today, The Gazette is backing calls from supporters and those at the club for the English Football League to spare Pool from the threat of being docked 12 points.
This week’s momentous High Court ruling paved the way for the club to be placed in the hands of receivers, meaning Owen Oyston’s days as owner are numbered.
But while Justice Marcus Smith’s decision has brought optimism back to some of football’s longest suffering fans, it also brought the very real possibility of a 12-point deduction by the EFL.
Blackpool manager Terry McPhillips hopes “common sense” is applied that does not happen. The Gazette agrees.
The team has not benefitted from the off-field problems that led to receivers being appointed. A points deduction would only prolong the misery that has gone on too long.
Speaking for the first time since Wednesday’s court ruling, McPhillips admits he would be “mega disappointed” if the deduction was to apply.
He said: “There’s a bit of limbo with the possible points deduction and all that, so I’m sure the players will all want to know. We all will. Hopefully that doesn’t happen but we’ll see where we go with that and hopefully we’ll get informed.
“It would be mega disappointing if we got deducted points, but it’s not your normal receivership situation so hopefully some common sense and rub of the green would occur. Since I’ve been here we don’t really get that. That was epitomised with the non-penalty we didn’t get against Sunderland on Tuesday.
“I think this sort of thing has been looming over the football club for a number of months so Wednesday was what it was.
“We’ll crack on, we’ll get informed about what the steps forward are but knowing the group as I do, they’re resilient and they’ll roll their sleeves up, have a fight and we’ll go again.”
The EFL issued a statement on Wednesday saying its board would consider deducting points at the next meeting on March 6. If an “insolvency event” – which includes a court appointing a receiver – is deemed to apply to the club’s parent company, rather than the club itself, EFL rules state any points penalty would be at the board’s discretion.
As it stands, the club being docked 12 points would leave the Seasiders - who are currently chasing the League One play-offs - just two points above the relegation zone.
Paul Cooper and David Rubin, of David Rubin and Partners, were appointed by the court and will look to discharge Owen Oyston’s club assets to recoup £25m still owed to minority-shareholder Valeri Belokon.
Mr Cooper – who won’t arrive in Blackpool until the start of next week – has already reached out to McPhillips ahead of his official appointment.
“I’m expecting a phone call from the receiver at least,” the Pool boss added.
“Whether they come in today, tomorrow or on Monday remains to be seen but we’ll find out soon, I’m sure.
“But when that call comes or that knock on the door we’ll have a meeting and crack on from there.”
The club going into receivership raises the prospect of a return to home matches for the thousands of Blackpool fans who have been boycotting in recent years.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust honorary vice president Tim Fielding has warned fans, however, not to purchase tickets for the game against Oxford United on Saturday, February 23 until it can be guaranteed Oyston will not financially benefit from the gate receipts. The thought of Bloomfield being packed out like we’ve just seen at Sunderland or Portsmouth away, to have a big crowd to cheer us on is exciting,” McPhillips said.
“The history, it’s a great club and I knew that before I came here. It is exciting and it could be a big club again if we can get the fans coming back and someone to invest in the team, the facilities, the training ground and the pitch. It could be exciting times ahead.
“I’ve said before if there’s more fans at the games then it will help. It would be great to see a really big crowd here against Oxford a week on Saturday.”
Mr Oyston, who was not at Wednesday’s hearing and was believed to be out of the country yesterday, has yet to comment on the latest developments but told The Gazette he expected to make a statement “shortly”.