SIGN: Blackpool fans launch petition to change the way football is governed

Blackpool supporters have launched a petition urging the government to make changes to the way football is run.

Friday, 23rd February 2018, 12:10 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd February 2018, 1:30 pm
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey is under pressure to take action against rogue owners

Blackpool Supporters' Trust (BST), the club's largest supporters' group, has been lobbying the EFL in recent months to take action against rogue owners of football clubs.

To date, they have been left frustrated with the EFL's lack of action.

It led to BST chairperson Christine Seddon labelling the EFL as "unfit for purpose" and called on the body's chiefs to step down unless they implement reforms to protect clubs from financial mismanagement.

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Subsequently, they have launched a petition demanding the government introduce an independent regulator for English football to ensure the "highest possible standards of governance".

It is not the only action Blackpool supporters are planning to take, having last week released plans to protest outside the EFL's headquarters in Preston next month.

The march, organised by supporters' group Tangerine Knight, is due to take place on Friday, March 2, and fans of football clubs from across the country are being urged to join them.

Senior officials at the EFL are aware of the plans but declined to comment.

BST’s frustration has now reached boiling point following an email exchange seen by The Gazette.

On December 23, 2017 Ms Seddon wrote the following to EFL chairman Ian Lenagan: "The measures put in place so far have been woefully inadequate and the general feeling amongst fans is that the EFL simply do not 'get it'.

"If current rules do not allow the EFL to take robust, effective action against rogue owners then it is time to get some new rules.

“We require you, the football authorities, to act resolutely and speedily for the good of all in the game, to bring the changes regarding responsible custodianship which our game so urgently needs.

“If the EFL won’t act, then we give you notice that we, the fans, most certainly will.”

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign the petition

The EFL's position is that it is a simply a competition which can only operate within the bounds of rules provided by the clubs within it.

BST insist that this amounts to the clubs regulating themselves - a scenario that fails supporters when a rogue owner is in place.

Ms Seddon received a reply on January 26, 2018, not from Mr Lenagan but from a member of the EFL's Supporter Services Department.

It read: “We do understand your views regarding this and, at the recent EFL structured dialogue meeting, it prompted a discussion about various matters relating to club ownership during which we updated the group on EFL's strategic review of the conduct of owners, directors and executives which EFL instigated at the start of the 2017-2018 season.

“We clarified that EFL are currently mid-way through the consultation with clubs.

“At this stage, it is obviously too early to speculate on what the outcome of the review will be but we expect it is something we can discuss at the next meeting in Spring, and any formal proposals would be dealt with at the AGM in June 2018.

“We recognise your willingness for this process to be expedited and took note of a number of comments and suggestions made at the meeting with regard to the review.

“We committed to feed those into the clubs' and EFL's decision-making discussions for consideration.”

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In an email sent on February 2, Ms Seddon responds: "Vague assurances about feeding our ideas into an opaque process that will not deliver conclusions until the summer really is not good enough."

Addressing her reply to Mr Lenagan personally, she explains that the EFL's stance "is not likely, in our view, to deliver any challenging conclusions that allow you to improve the manner in which the English game works.”

An EFL Spokesman told The Gazette: “The EFL notes the comments and actions taken today by the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust.

"We have, on a number of separate occasions in the recent past, engaged with different individuals who are Trust members on the matters raised and others.

"Following the receipt of a further communication in the past 24 hours, we will review and revert as is our commitment to all supporters and supporter groups.”

BST's petition, which has almost reached 2,000 signatures having been launched on Thursday, has been supported and signed by fans of clubs from across the UK.

While the off-the-field issues at Blackpool with the Oystons well documented, they're far from the only club to have suffered from unscrupulous owners.

Leyton Orient, Charlton Athletic, Coventry City, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers are among those to experience difficulties between fans and those in charge of their clubs.

If the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government will have to respond. A parliamentary debate will be held on the issue if it reaches 100,000 signatures.

To sign the petition, click HERE.