Latest Posts by BlackpoolSupportersTrust
On Saturday 16th November, before the home game against AFC Wimbledon, BST are holding another foodbank collection in aid of Home Start Blackpool, one of our local family support charities. If you are able to donate items such as tinned food, dried pasta, cereals, sauces, tea and coffee etc, or toiletries, BST members will be stationed near to the main entrance of the football club in the West Stand from 1.30pm to receive whatever you can spare.
Fans Supporting Foodbanks – thank you in advance.
The BST Annual General Meeting takes place tomorrow, and will be a watershed moment for the Trust - and for Blackpool fans generally.
For the first time since BST was created, we go into our AGM free of the regime that blighted the club for so long, and our work on behalf of Blackpool fans as a whole is no longer defined merely by protest. It is a sweet moment, one that many people have made sacrifices to secure, and tomorrow’s meeting will be a celebration of that - in part.
However, our Trust exists for a much wider set of purposes, which only now - after the demise of the Oyston family - are coming to the fore. Only this week, our Chair Christine Seddon was able to take part in an event at the Tower Ballroom in connection with the “Blackpool - Pride of Place” initiative, which is designed to examine how the various agencies in the town and in Government can work together to improve quality of life, and life prospects, for the people who live and work in the area. The town’s social problems have been well documented, but a tremendous amount of thought and effort is going into addressing them. Linton Brown, acting CEO at BFC and Ashley Hackett from the BFC Community Trust were also there and it is gratifying that it is acknowledged how important the football club is to the town and what a key role it can play on behalf of the community.
Whilst working with partners locally remains a big part of our DNA, the national challenges that football faces have not gone away simply because we are free of the Oyston family. Our inability to break down a stubborn and well-organised Bolton side on Monday evening was frustrating on a number of levels. Any pleasure that the genuine football fan could take from seeing a Founder Member of the EFL competing properly is tempered by the knowledge that at least a couple of our rivals at the top of League One have obtained a benefit from having played them in August before the takeover of the club brought in new investment and new players.
Couple this with the EFL’s dithering over how to handle the accompanying crisis at Bury and it is obvious that Shaun Harvey’s oft-repeated mantra about “preserving the integrity of the competition” is a hollow joke, and one that will affect not just the twenty three remaining L1 clubs, but every club playing in L2 as well.
It is clear that the EFL has been rattled by the criticism its handling of events has had, and whilst its announcement that it would conduct a review of the finance and sustainability of clubs is welcome, it does look like a knee-jerk response conceived in panic. Not only that, once again it is a consultation largely aimed at the club owners who are a large part of the problem, and much too narrowly framed for our liking. We will support the EFL in conducting it - but it looks like an inadequate response to a very deep-seated problem.
Much more promising is the Government’s own review of football governance which gets underway formally in a couple of weeks time. This has been prompted by events at Bolton and Bury, but the Government recognises that they are merely the latest in a long line of club failures that have not been properly addressed by anyone, least of all by the people who actually run the game. This review is casting its net far wider, to take in the experience of the SUPPORTERS of other clubs whom have suffered the effects of poor ownership.
BST has, as you might expect, provided written evidence to this review, and we are delighted that civil servants at Digital, Culture, Media & Sport are keen to have us involved when the Select Committee takes oral witness statements later in October. At the time of writing we are expecting to be represented in that process, not only to talk about what has happened to our club, but also to give our views on how the situation was handled and how we think the way the game is governed needs to change.
Of course, words are merely that, and any review needs to lead to something actually happening on the ground. But having campaigned so hard for regulatory reform for so long, it is hugely heartening for BST that people at very senior levels in Government are now taking notice of the issue and what WE have to say about it. It is probably no coincidence that the Labour Party have this week announced a whole raft of policy proposals designed to give Supporters’ Trusts a far more hands-on role in the management of clubs. These ideas are interesting, although perhaps need to focus more on regulatory issues, but we are very clear that without the campaigning effort of fans nationally, and in our case, locally, this debate would not be taking place.
To summarise, there remains much to play for, and much for us to seek to influence. We are meeting to endorse our new BST Committee on Saturday, and many of the issues touched upon above will be under discussion. We are very pleased to be able to welcome Linton Brown, the new Chief Commercial Officer and acting CEO as well as Brett Gerrity, BFC Director and friend of Simon Sadler, to our meeting. Everyone is welcome to come along and listen to and join in the debate - and if you haven’t already joined us, remember that you get all this local and national endeavour for an annual Membership fee of just £5. We hope to see as many of you as possible at the meeting, which is at the Bloomfield Social Club, Bloomfield Rd and starts at 1 p.m.
BST ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING:
We are holding our AGM on Saturday 12th October at 1pm at the Bloomfield Club, Bloomfield Rd. Plenty to discuss and the new committee will be ratified by the members at this meeting.
We will be joined at the start by Brett Gerrity, BFC Director and Linton Brown, the new Chief Commercial Officer and acting CEO. This is a good opportunity to meet with them so please be at the Bloomfield in good time, we will start at 1pm promptly.
This is an open meeting so if you've never been before or wish to know more about BST, you will be made very welcome.
The second edition of the BFC fanzine, "Now That's What I Call Progress" will be available to purchase at the meeting.
After so many years of conflict and campaigning, it is heartening to see the resurgence of Blackpool FC as a football club and as part of the community. The buzz among supporters is only too evident as we all learn to cherish our relationship with our football club again and watch it becoming a vibrant and exciting part of our community.
Simon Sadler is clearly relishing the job he has taken on and has already started investing heavily, both on and off the pitch. At a time when the club needed a saviour he stepped up, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that he will prove to be the owner we all hoped for. Owning a community club is a huge responsibility.
As fans of the club, we also have a hugely important role to play . Making our own financial investments by purchasing tickets and merchandise, providing sponsorship and creating noise and atmosphere at every game are part of the deal that goes with being a fan and we all contribute to this in whatever way we can.
Just as important though is establishing a reputation for being the best fans we can be, ambassadors for OUR club who can be welcomed wherever we go and who set the very best example of loyalty, passion, commitment and good behaviour. Blackpool fans have already gained immense respect from many quarters for the collective effort which saw us finally save our club from rogue owners. Throughout those difficult years, fans came together from within our club as well as from elsewhere to work together to campaign and eventually succeed.
A perfect example of this was in March 2018, when the EFL offered a limited number of places to meet with Blackpool fans to discuss our situation and the failure of football governance. Fans from various groups worked together to ensure that each group nominated someone who had the knowledge required to deal with this particular meeting, regardless of which fan group they belonged to. It was recognised by all that we had to work together to make sure that every opportunity we were given was seized upon and dealt with by the right people for that particular situation.
In “peace time”, that sort of co operation is just as important. Our football club now appears to be in very good hands and has the most wonderful opportunity to move forward and progress in a way that has never been possible before. The supporters of this club should now be recognised as a vital part of the football club and as fans we need to make sure that the “entente cordiale” which was evident between so many fans prior to Simon Sadler’s ownership, is maintained. All football clubs have fans from many different backgrounds, cultures and with vastly different characters and ways of supporting their club. However, the tangerine that runs through all our veins is something that should unite us and as long as every fan maintains respect for others and acts in the best interests of our club, that unity will prove to be a huge bonus for Blackpool FC.
The news that Ben Hatton is to step down at the end of September has come as a surprise to many but there is no doubt that after months of incredible effort and hard work, a well earned rest must surely be on the cards! It is almost impossible to imagine how difficult the task of putting BFC back on its feet must have been but he, along with Michael Bolingbroke and other key personnel, have managed to turn the club from a collapsing wreck into a professional, vibrant organisation. There is still much to do and it is to be hoped that whoever takes over from Ben will continue with the incredible progress already made. They will certainly have a robust framework within which to work and we all owe Ben Hatton a huge debt of gratitude for the fundamental role he has played in the resurgence of Blackpool Football Club.
These are exciting times and the BST committee is about to see some new faces joining us as the committee election results are ratified at the next members’ AGM. This meeting will be held on Saturday 12th October from 1pm at the Bloomfield Club on Bloomfield Rd. This is an open meeting and all are welcome but we hope that members will make the effort to attend to enable the committee to be ratified by as many as possible.
We will announce the agenda over the coming weeks.
BST will be in the BFC ticket office on Saturday 14th from 1.30pm until 2.30pm, for anyone who wishes to have a chat, renew or sign up for membership. This is our regular spot on match days and we hope to see many of you over the coming weeks.
When Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was created just over five years ago, its main purpose was, as it is now, to represent the interests of Blackpool fans, to help ensure the wellbeing of the football club and promote the involvement of the club in its local community. These relatively simple aims proved very difficult as a result of the unwillingness of our then owners to engage with supporters. The previous owners ignored the Trust, cravenly disowned BSA when that group opposed their shenanigans before creating a bizarre half-baked consultative body called the Fans Progress Group. So transparent was the artifice with which the Oystons’ tried to protect themselves from any kind of oversight or accountability, that the FPG numbers soon dwindled to literally less than a handful and the owners continued to drain the very lifeblood out of the football club until finally having BFC wrested from them by the courts.
This quick and hugely condensed account of the recent past serves only to remind us of just how dire the situation was and how vastly improved it is now. Largely because of the situation that Blackpool fans found themselves in, BST has been a leading light in developing new and effective means of ensuring that clubs are required to maintain communication with their supporters. That the clubs are subject to a degree of oversight by supporters who help to make them viable as businesses. It may even be that the Oystons’ most lasting and unintended legacy is the evolution of supporter engagement by football clubs.
We are fortunate now to have a board and an owner who want to actively engage with supporters, who wish to establish regular Fans Forums and would also like to have structured dialogue with supporters’ groups. It seems clear that Simon Sadler and his team would do this whether or not it was required of them by football’s governing bodies but not every club has the luxury of an owner who has the club and the community’s best interests at heart.
It is because the regulations relating to ownership are so flimsy that BST and many other such groups are consistently working to persuade the EFL, the PL, the FA and politicians that they need to develop a more robust system of governance that will help to prevent rogue owners from rapaciously or incompetently destroying football clubs.
One of the few initiatives to come out of this lobbying is ‘structured dialogue’ which is intended to provide an effective and formal method of communication between the executive level of football clubs and democratically elected supporter representatives on key issues of importance. The EFL rule book states that the clubs must be represented by owners, directors or senior executive management as the matters being discussed will often be of a strategic nature and may relate to the management and day-to-day running of the club.
This is something we are confident that the new board will embrace and will be an important step in helping to ensure the continued well being of the club.
BST welcomes the recent announcement from the EFL that they have commissioned an independent review, led by Jonathon Taylor QC, to review their regulations and procedures. At the same time, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee have announced an inquiry into the administration of football clubs and have requested help from football fans. The first step towards resolving the many issues that football faces is an admission that those issues exist, something that the football authorities have been reluctant to do thus far. The campaign by Blackpool fans (“the most brilliantly orchestrated campaign in football” according to a national journalist) to challenge the existing regulations and bring change at our own club has played a major part in highlighting the problems that exist and the need for change. The evisceration of Bury FC may prove to be the catalyst that finally brings that change
Regrettably, the BST committee have had to make the decision to cancel this year's golf day, due to insufficient numbers. To make this event viable, we need a good turnout from our golfing community and sadly, this has not transpired this year.
We apologise to those who had already committed their support as well as to the Gary Parkinson Trust and The Boathouse Youth, the charities which would have benefitted from this event.
We hope to rearrange for next year and will discuss this and other fundraising possibilities at our forthcoming AGM on the 12th October.
As we emerge from possibly the darkest period in the club’s history and into the hope and possibility of a new era, the simple joys of going to a football match are once again a thing that we can all take part in. The town’s affection for the football club remains as strong as ever: the support is raucous and enthusiastic, the attendances are higher than they have ever been at Bloomfield Road when playing at this level and there are initiatives aplenty in terms of blogs, video diaries, fanzines, coach travel and every other aspect of fanaticism for the football club. After perhaps the worst period to be a fan of the club we are experiencing some of the best of times.
A large majority of Blackpool fans had not been to games for several years and are now making up for lost time. The money previously unspent in the club shop and concourses is flooding back into the club. Tickets and merchandise are selling out and there is enormous goodwill towards the new ownership. The fans are once again fully engaged in the narrative of the team – the footballing story that excites the imagination and plays havoc with the emotions. We are at last, thankfully, something approximating a normal football club.
This presents a huge opportunity for Simon Sadler and his team to develop and further cement the relationships that the club is now enjoying with supporters. The positivity that fans feel towards Blackpool FC needs to be harnessed and developed for the long-term future of the club and its community. The supporters are the lifeblood of the club and genuine, lasting success cannot be achieved without them.
Of course, as Blackpool fans are only too aware, another necessary component of success is responsible and committed ownership. The situations at Bury and Bolton are stark reminders of just how much chaos and danger surrounds the business of football. There are far too many people in the game who really do not understand the fundamentals of professional sport. The obligation of an owner cannot simply be to make a profit. Professional football clubs, as the people of Bury will attest today, are not like any other business.
The impact of the closure of a football club reaches far beyond the employees, suppliers and partners. It reaches deep into the heart of the community, right to the very identity of the place that the football club represents. When we sing about Blackpool FC on a Saturday it is not just the football club we are singing about, it is also the town that we celebrate, the community of people that makes the place what it is. The football club is a focal point for expressing local pride and reinforcing local identity, a sense of camaraderie and belonging – a basic human need as old as the existence of humanity. This is something that Bury has lost, hopefully temporarily, but it is a significant blow to the town’s prestige and sense of importance in relation to the rest of the country.
For these reasons alone, it is more critical than ever, that football’s governing bodies are effectively regulated. This is something that BST together with many other fans’ groups is actively working towards. The demise of Bury football club has its roots in a complacency and negligence that exists at the centre of football governance in this country. When the situation was at its worst with our previous owners, the very best that the EFL, PL and FA would do was quietly sympathise. It is hard to imagine that such sympathy will console the fans of Bury any more than it did the fans of Blackpool when our club was being so obviously stripped of its assets.
Many in the game like to talk mawkishly and patronisingly about the football family. Usually it is for the purposes of creating a soundbite and establishing a sense of connection where none actually exists. However, in the case of Bury, we truly have lost one of the family and as much as it ever has been, a minute's applause and the wearing of black armbands by all professional teams in England’s top four divisions is warranted. Such an act would signify not only a sense of that shared loss but a desire and a determination to prevent further casualties.
The FSA are asking all football fans attending games on Saturday to show respect to Bury FC and its supporters by joining in a minute's applause in the 27th minute of the game. It was the 27th August when the club were expelled from the league and it is 27 years since such a thing last happened.
We hope that Blackpool and Portsmouth fans will support this initiative.
BST 3rd Annual Golf Day:
As has become the tradition, BST will be holding a Golf Day at Green Drive Golf Course, Lytham, on Sunday 22nd September. We are looking for teams of 4 players to take part in this annual event and fundraiser for the Gary Parkinson Trust and the Boathouse Youth.
The cost per person is £50 and this includes: coffee and bacon butty at the start, a round of golf and a 2-course carvery meal at the end of the day when the BST trophy will be awarded. There may be some spaces available at the dinner for non-golfers to join, at a cost of £20 per head. The maximum will be 32 groups of 4 players, so please book in good time. When reserving your place for this event, kindly let us know if you are booking your own group of 4 or if you wish BST to allocate you a place.
There will be players past and present joining some groups although at this stage we cannot give names of who will be available on the day. It would also be helpful if you could let us know your handicap. This event is open to men and women.
To reserve/book your places, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org