Here's my monthly SLO column in today's Gazette:

The changes taking place at Blackpool FC must surely be obvious to everyone who has been inside the ground in recent months – all changes for the better, it is to be hoped. It does take time. As Brett Gerrity reminded fans when he spoke at Blackpool Supporters’ Trust AGM recently, Simon Sadler has only been in place for four months and Simon Grayson for an even shorter while.


Since then, the interim board has been released and replaced by a new Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Commercial Officer in Ben Mansford and Linton Brown respectively, both men with excellent track records in the game at this and Championship level. On the playing side, a new head of recruitment, Tommy Johnson, has joined the ranks - more proof if it were needed of our owner’s intention to build a winning team for the long term. The expertise and connections of Simon Sadler’s new appointments will prove instrumental in helping to take Blackpool forward.


Your patience, your support and your passion as fans are vital ingredients in the rebuilding of the club after so many problem years.


Rebuilding the fan base, particularly a following of young fans, is obviously an important part of reconnecting the club with the community and ensuring a vibrant future. For that reason it was fantastic to see so many excited youngsters at the club’s second open training day on Monday. There are probably not many League One clubs who can attract nearly a thousand fans to such an event, to watch the first team train and then get their autographs. It’s a positive indicator of Blackpool’s potential and huge thanks should go to the club, the players, the community trust, to everyone who helped to capture the enthusiasm of those young fans and bring the team and the fan base closer together.


It’s also the case that there are probably not many League One clubs that make a profit, so a good FA Cup run is always a bonus. Blackpool’s journey in this year’s competition starts next Saturday 9th November at home to Morecambe and the club has set prices very competitively at £10 for adults, £5 for seniors and £1 for under-18s. That looks like a great incentive to get a large crowd through the turnstiles to cheer the Seasiders on to victory.


Now that the new management team is being finalised, we can expect that they will want to engage with the fan base, to introduce themselves and communicate their vision for Blackpool FC. I will be looking to set up the first Structured Dialogue meeting between members of the board and fans’ representatives during November.


The purpose of structured dialogue is to provide an effective, formalised means of communication between the leadership of clubs at board/senior executive level and democratically elected supporter representatives in order to ensure clear understanding on all sides of key issues of importance to the club and its supporters as long-term stakeholders. It’s all about increasing levels of transparency and trust between clubs and fans.


Every football league club is duty-bound to engage in such structured dialogue at least twice per season. The intention at Blackpool FC is to hold quarterly meetings with supporters’ representatives, the latter being selected or invited in line with democratic principles to cover as broad a section of the fan base as possible. The meetings will be round-table in format and set up so as to encourage constructive, two-way communication that allows issues, often of a strategic nature, to be properly discussed and developed to a depth and with an accountability just not possible in general fans’ forums. It is another exciting step in the right direction to creating a cohesive, community club.


Meanwhile, tomorrow’s league game against high-flying Peterborough will be another good test of the Seasiders’ credentials. October unfortunately proved to be a month without a win. Let’s hope November sets that to rights, starting with our game against the Posh. Your passionate vocal support makes all the difference to the team in tangerine. We’ve got our club back, let’s all get behind it now.


As always, if you have issues, concerns or suggestions for how to improve the quality of the match day experience at Bloomfield Road, or just want to start a conversation, contact me. You can reach me via twitter: @BFCSLO, via email: slo@blackpoolfc.co.uk and on Facebook: Blackpool FC Supporters’ Liaison Officer.


Steve Rowland, SLO


Thank you for sharing. Club definitely moving forward at least off the pitch. I am sure this will translate onto the pitch in the near future.