BST column: A classic case of cause and effect
In this final Football Friday of the season, a message from Blackpool Supporters Trust.
Everybody at Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is deeply hurt and disappointed to have experienced relegation to League Two this week.
It comes at the end of three consecutive seasons of very poor football.
It has been one of the quickest slides from the Premier League to the bottom division in the history of the game.
Furthermore, despite the official message from the board and the claims made in Owen Oyston’s somewhat surreal interview, there is absolutely no guarantee that the shocking demise of our proud club ends here.
The perilous state of Blackpool FC and the total breakdown in the relationship between owners and fans is not due to some unfortunate accident.
This disastrous situation is a classic case of cause and effect, a combination of poor custodianship by the owners coupled with their arrogant attitude towards the fan base.
We are where we are as a direct result of the Oystons’ policies and actions: they have simply not used the revenues from the Premier League and the sale of key players wisely; they have not invested to improve and grow the footballing side of the business.
A “cash rich” club should not be in Blackpool’s current predicament.
Whether that mismanagement is the result of a cynical agenda –as some believe – or stems from incompetence at the highest level, the outcome is the same and it is totally unacceptable.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was formed because of a growing concern among fans that the owners didn’t appear to have the best interests of the football club at heart.
We saw this downward trend developing three years ago and we have been attempting to influence a change in that trend.
An undertaking made all the more difficult by the Oystons’ continued refusal to meet with and listen to the largest supporters’ organisation there has ever been at the club – a stance which made Owen’s claim in his interview: ‘I’m not sure what they (the fans) want’ sound completely bizarre.
Added to a refusal to listen to us, there have been unfortunate attempts to label the Trust as extreme and trouble-making.
While there may be some extreme elements among the fan base, we should be clear that BST, as a legally constituted and democratic supporters’ organisation, is not at all extreme in its views nor its actions.
However, we do have a duty to be critical of the poor custodianship of our club and we will not hold back from expressing our concerns, nor in calling for radical change at the top to rectify things both off and on the pitch.
So what happens now?
For thousands of long-suffering supporters, over the last couple of seasons the football unfortunately has been a mere sideshow in the drama. Many fans have chosen to walk away from what has become a farce.
More will decide to do the same now the two-year season ticket deal has expired.
Faith in the owners has all but gone and it is unlikely it can ever be rebuilt.
Bloomfield Road will be an eerie place on match days unless and until there is a substantive change of direction or ownership at the top of the club.
This is a very sad state of affairs and BST is actively considering what practical alternatives can be offered to supporters who choose not to buy a season ticket or to go to home games next season, so watch out for an announcement in the next few weeks.
We must also make it quite clear that we never dictate to our members and we respect the decision of anyone who chooses to renew.
The Trust is there for all fans and it vital not to lose sight of the fact that a united fanbase is essential for the future of our club.
Different opinions may abound but fundamentally we all want the same thing: a well-run club, wise investment, owners who put football first and respect the fans and some genuine hope for the future to match our proud past.
The most recent Judgement Day protest march showed that, even though attendances at Bloomfield Road are a fraction of what they were five years ago, supporters have not deserted the club. They are merely making the tough choice to stay away in protest until that substantive change happens. It is like a self-imposed exile.
The real value of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is to give all fans a sense of belonging and enfranchisement even through these most difficult times.
#WeAreBlackpoolFC means that the heart and soul of our club is being held safe by the supporters until it has a proper home again.
The Trust will continue to work by all legitimate means to achieve the result we all want.
To find out more about us and to join up, our website is: www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com