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BST Gazette Column

BST18/03/2016

Another depressing chapter in Blackpool’s footballing soap-opera seems to be heading for a catastrophic conclusion. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to rip up the script and write it differently? With hope for next season?

Blackpool fans had an entirely reasonable expectation that our rise to the Premier League would be the platform for sensible and sustained investment in the football club, a lasting legacy for Blackpool FC and the wider community. Instead, we are plunging towards the bottom of the league.

The majority of supporters have become increasingly frustrated with the consistent failure of the Oyston family to manage the business of Blackpool FC for anything but their own profit.

Lack of investment and an unwillingness to listen to the supporters has led thousands to believe that the only viable option is for the Oyston family to sell the club. In order to help deliver the positive change they want to see, many fans have therefore decided that an ethical consumer boycott is the best way forward – the Not A Penny More campaign was born of this sentiment and has been having a noticeable impact all season.

Ethical boycotts offer campaign groups and/or individuals the chance to exert economic pressure on companies. They are particularly appropriate when consumers feel their voice is not being heard and where there are limited means to effect change through existing legislation. They are widely considered to be a vitally important extension of our formal democracy and have proven to be a very effective way of delivering positive change: companies as large as Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and BP, to name but three, have all yielded and changed policy in the face of well organised ethical consumer boycotts.

Blackpool Supporters’ Trust supports the use of an ethical boycott as a lawful and reasonable way for supporters to place financial pressure on the owners to respond to the will of the fan base. We are fully supportive of the call for positive change at Blackpool FC and, given the responses from the Oystons to date, we believe such a transformation can probably only be delivered by a change of ownership.

With an announcement on season ticket prices for 2016/17 being expected from the club in the coming weeks, we would encourage all supporters to give serious consideration to supporting an ethical boycott of season tickets.

That being said, we also uphold the right of every individual to make his or her own decision on such an important matter. The Supporters’ Trust is for all Blackpool fans, whether they wish to boycott or not. Everyone should be able to support the club as they see fit without being intimidated, threatened or having to feel fearful in any way. We recognise the ethical boycott is not for everybody and there are supporters who will still want to cheer the team on – some for very compelling family reasons, some even though they would much rather the Oystons were nothing to do with the football club; they must all be respected in their choice.

For those fans who intend not to buy or renew season tickets for the 2016/17 season, the Trust realises that this is a tough decision. We will be putting in place a number of initiatives to support those fans with an alternative option on match days and a means by which loyal Blackpool fans can retain contact with their fellow supporters. We will also give an undertaking, in as far as it is possible, that when the change of ownership finally happens, we will restore continuity of membership for season ticket holders – as though the year(s) of lapse had never occurred. Together we can make a difference. We are Blackpool FC.

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