BST column: We meet the Football League

Three members from the governance sub-committee of Blackpool Supporters' Trust had a meeting with the Football League this week to discuss the problems at the club.

Friday, 4th March 2016, 8:00 am
Empty seats among the Blackpool home supporters contrast with a near full Bradford City away end

The Football League panel were interested to learn the background to the situation from BST’s perspective.

Having listened to what we had to say and having explained how they expect the new regulations regarding fan engagement to work, they asked us three pointed questions.

Here are those questions and a summary of the answers we gave.

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What do we hope to achieve as a Supporters’ Trust?

We hope to champion our members’ aspirations for a football club where their views as supporters are given serious consideration in the way the club is run.

We hope to influence the management of the club to develop a sound strategic plan and to invest in it adequately to ensure football of sufficient quality and ambition to make fans want to come and support their team once more and bring the good times back to Bloomfield Road.

We believe such a recovery requires the appointment of someone who knows how to run a professional football club, a CEO or Director of Football with a proven track record in the professional game.

Do we think the owners would be prepared to sell Blackpool FC?

The owners will always maintain they are not prepared to sell – until the right offer comes along. They are businessmen first and foremost.

The majority of members of BST and thousands of fans beyond the Trust believe that new ownership offers the best chance of a positive future for Blackpool FC.

Would the Supporters’ Trust be willing to work with the owners if they demonstrate a willingness to do things differently?

Many of us are long-term fans of the club and have been waiting for the owners to demonstrate a willingness to do things differently for nearly three decades.

As a properly constituted Supporters’ Trust, we have been trying to engage the owners in dialogue for the last three years.

The principal reason they have so far refused to engage with us appears to be because we are “independent”.

Our members see independence as a virtue when it comes to fans’ organisations; the owners seem to regard it as a reason not to trust us.

We are not at all convinced that the leopard can change its spots.

Nevertheless, subject to our members’ approval, the Trust is prepared to work with anybody who can truly demonstrate they have the best interests of the club, the fans and the community at heart.

There remains the strong possibility that, due to the nature of some of the owners’ actions, many supporters will not return to the club on principle until the Oystons have gone, regardless of what they do from now on with the football side.

In an offer to assist the mediation process, the Football League has advised both Councillor Tony Williams, whose initiative it was, and Blackpool Supporters’ Trust that it is willing to attend a meeting provided that the club and the relevant supporters’ organisations are also willing to attend.

The meeting BST has called for Tuesday of next week may turn out to be a precursor to that mediation process.

Meanwhile, to all reasonable minded people, the green shoot of recovery is continuing to look like a fiction.

The pitch is a disgrace again; the team is back in the relegation places with just two points out of a possible 15; the club secretary has resigned and a second successive relegation is a real fear.