The Matt Scrafton column: Fans throwing missiles make Blackpool the target for sanctions
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It was depressing to see more disorder during Wednesday night’s game against Stoke City as supporters launched missiles onto the pitch.
It’s believed coins, lighters and bottles were among the items to descend onto the playing surface from the North Stand.
Stadium announcer Tony Parr even had to read a message over the public address system to remind fans not to throw objects onto the pitch.
Referee John Busby, meanwhile, was seen picking up some of the missiles and will inevitably include the crowd trouble in his official report.
A couple of Stoke players probably didn’t help matters by taunting the Pool fans housed behind the goal but that’s still no excuse.
This is just the latest incident to mar a Blackpool game at Bloomfield Road, with pyrotechnics and missiles also thrown in previous matches.
It’s understood the FA were already investigating this season’s disorder, so they’re likely to take a dim view of the latest trouble.
It seems sadly inevitable that the Seasiders will be charged and fined but there’s also a chance the punishments could even be more severe, as pointed out by Ben Mansford in a recent interview with The Gazette.
The club’s chief executive warned before the Preston North End derby that unless the trouble stops there’s a chance the club might be forced to close certain sections of the ground, namely block A and B of the North Stand. They might also have to ban the sale of alcohol, and ticket allocations for away games could also be impacted.
With the behaviour of Blackpool fans already under the microscope, the FA and the EFL will certainly be casting an eye over Saturday’s televised game against Queens Park Rangers.
Given the infectious positivity surrounding the club at the moment, it’s a real shame we have to keep coming back to this matter.
Given the huge investment Simon Sadler has made since taking over, how do you think he feels when he sees this mindless behaviour continuing despite the repeated warnings about what might happen unless it stops?
Even broken seats – the result of fans standing on them – cost money to replace. Fans shouldn’t be causing damage anyway, but when it negatively impacts your own club it’s completely idiotic.
Hopefully this is the last time we have to discuss it.
Anyway, on to the football. Neil Critchley’s side will be looking to bounce back and respond to their midweek setback against Stoke City, which I still feel was unfortunate.
I thought the criticism of Blackpool’s performance was a little over the top. It wasn’t a great deal different to how they played at Sheffield United last weekend, only it was the opposition who edged it on this occasion.
That’s football and it happens, especially in the Championship.
It was pointed out that Blackpool didn’t really do enough going forwards and clear-cut chances were few and far between. That’s a fair point.
But Stoke didn’t do a great deal either, did they? Other than the goal, which was scored by a player who shouldn’t have been on the pitch, Michael O’Neill’s side rarely threatened, other than a Jacob Brown shot that was straight at Dan Grimshaw.
Yes, the Potters enjoyed a strong 15-minute period at the start of the second half, but Blackpool had actually seen off that spell of pressure and were beginning to get back into the game by the time Stoke scored.
The way some fans have spoken about the game, it’s as though they completely forgot Pool’s encouraging first-half display ever happened.
The men in tangerine were in total control and, had Sonny Carey and Jerry Yates taken their early chances, the outcome would have been completely different.
Unfortunately those opportunities went to waste and the Seasiders suffered a defeat, only their second in their last nine outings.
Sitting just one point off the play-offs with 16 games played, if Critchley’s men can pick up a positive result against QPR this weekend that will put them in a really strong position heading into the final international break of 2021.
If someone had told you Blackpool would win three of their next four games after Chris Maxwell and Shayne Lavery, arguably the club’s most important players, suffered nasty injuries, you would have snapped their hand off, wouldn’t you? So let’s keep some perspective.
Pool could leapfrog QPR in the league table with a win, as Mark Warburton’s side sit just a point ahead of them in a play-off spot.
The Hoops are clearly a good side, with some dangerous players like Lyndon Dykes, Andre Gray and Ilias Chair.
But while the Londoners picked up a 1-0 win against Cardiff City in midweek, their form hasn’t exactly been sparkling of late.
So is there anything to fear? Absolutely not.