EFL meeting first step on 'long road' to change, says BST
The English Football League's (EFL) offer to meet with concerned Blackpool supporters could be the first step on the 'long road' to change.
BST have been in regular contact with the EFL in recent months but were left frustrated by the talks, prompting them to launch a petition calling for an independent regulator to be set up.
A protest also took place outside the EFL’s headquarters in Preston on Friday.
BST chairman Christine Seddon said: “The EFL’s inability and reluctance to act has been a constant source of frustration to Blackpool fans for some time.
“In spite of the EFL conducting regular ‘structured dialogue’ meetings with supporter organisations, including a representative from BST, it has become increasingly obvious that no effective reforms are on the cards.
“Before Christmas, BST challenged the EFL directly to lead the way in making the reforms which are so desperately needed.
“Their response has been underwhelming and fans’ frustrations have resulted in a massive increase in individual complaints to the EFL, the demonstration which took place on Friday and the launch of the online petition calling on the government to appoint an independent regulator.
“These actions appear to have made some sort of impression, which has resulted in the offer of a meeting.
“BST are very pleased that this offer has finally been made and sincerely hope that we can now make some progress in reforming football governance.
“This is a first step on the long road to effective change.”
Blackpool supporters wrote to the EFL in December after the club’s owners, the Oystons, lost their High Court battle against former director Valeri Belokon.
The Oystons were ordered to pay Belokon £31.27m after it was found they had “illegitimately stripped” the football club following its promotion to the Premier League in 2010.
A High Court judge ruled that Belokon had been unfairly prejudiced. The club was put up for sale just four days later but Owen Oyston remains the owner.
The EFL’s position is that it is a simply a competition regulator which can only operate within the bounds of rules provided by its member clubs.
An EFL spokesman said after Friday’s protest: “The EFL acknowledges the right of those fans who chose to take part in the protest at EFL House.
“We appreciate the manner in which the group of supporters conducted themselves and, as per our announcement, we will now work on finalising the details of the meeting with representatives of the Blackpool fan groups, which will take place later this month.”