BST column: How the members see Blackpool's future
It has been a relatively quiet week for a change at our far-from-normal football club, unless you count the promise of a portaloo for the '˜training ground' as exciting.
One day all of this inexcusable nonsense will end and Blackpool FC will be a proper football club again, with proper owners and proper investment. It can’t happen soon enough.
In anticipation of that change, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust conducted a survey of our members recently.
Just over a third of the membership responded, although everyone had the opportunity to do so.
Given it has been a relatively quiet week, it seemed like a good opportunity to share the results – addressing issues of the nature of club ownership, degrees of supporter involvement and financial support from fans – with a wider audience and to give some commentary on what the survey tells us.
Regarding club ownership, three-quarters of respondents favoured a model in which the club is majority-owned by wealthy investors but supporters have a share-holding. Only one fifth were in favour of a wholly supporter-owned club.
Also, if or when that regime change comes, two-thirds of respondents would almost certainly buy a season-ticket again regardless of which division the club is in; and nearly everyone would start attending home games.
Both of these come with the caveat that Blackpool FC must be 100 per cent Oyston-free and not just a franchise renting out an Oyston-owned stadium!
Perhaps not surprisingly for a supporters’ trust, nearly everyone agreed or strongly agreed that they would like BST to negotiate with new owners to secure some formal involvement by fans in the way in which the club is run, preferably by democratic fan representation on the board of directors.
BST can clarify that under its constitution, it will always maintain its independent status as a supporters’ trust.
If any of its members were elected as fan representatives onto the board, the duty of those elected fans would be to represent the wishes of the fan base and be open and accountable.
Over and above the purchase of a season-ticket, nearly everyone agreed that they would support what is known as a Community Share Offer if the Trust were to organise one.
This would effectively ‘lend’ money to the Trust to be used for a specific and pre-agreed purpose – be it towards the purchase of shares in the football club or supporter investment in some other capital project in line with the Trust’s manifesto.
Based on that very positive feedback, the BST committee will now work with Supporters Direct to develop the basis of a Community Share proposal that can be put to fans when the appropriate time comes.
One of the externally imposed conditions of a Community Share Offer is that it is only open to members of the Supporters’ Trust.
If anyone reading this would like to get involved in what is shaping up to be a positive initiative, something that will reap rewards for the club, the fans and the community going forward, then becoming a member of BST is an obvious move to make.
There has been a lot of talk about how to reunite a fractured fan base after the debacle of the Oyston years.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust would like to recommend itself as a means of doing this. By coming on board, your views will be listened to and your participation can help put unity back into the community. Our website is: www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com and our aims and constitution are clearly stated there.
The future is tangerine.