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BST Gazette Column 12/08/2016

BST12/08/2016

Gary Bowyer’s team, by all accounts, has made a positive start to the new campaign, with a league win over Exeter and progress to the second round of the League Cup for the first time in years.

We say “by all accounts” simply because the majority of Blackpool fans have not seen the team in action yet. Those two opening games have been played at Bloomfield Road and attendances have very been low, under 2,000 paying home fans at each game.

The principal reason is not a lack of passion for the team. Quite the opposite, in fact, as we hope will be demonstrated this Saturday when thousands of Blackpool fans attend the away game at Morecambe. The low attendance is on account of the ethical boycott that supporters are engaged in, as a protest against the way in which the owners have been running the club in recent seasons.

For those who may be unaware of the background to this state of self-imposed exile, some explanation is in order.

More than ten thousand fans have abandoned the Oystons in recent years. Just to be clear, those fans have not abandoned the football club, they have abandoned its owners. Temporarily removing our active support for our football club is the greatest and most meaningful sacrifice any supporter can make. If any other better choice were available, you can be sure it would have been adopted

The owners’ persistent misuse of, and disregard for, the relationship that the fans have with the club has been unique in the history of English football. Their decision to completely ignore not just Blackpool Supporters Trust's reasonable requests for change in the way the club is run, but the Trust itself and the thousands of supporters it represents, has led to the introduction of the ethical boycott.

The purpose of this boycott is twofold:

1) To give supporters an opportunity to express their discontent with the regime and their unhappiness with the state of the football club in the most tangible way.

2) To impress on the owners that supporters make a vital financial contribution to the club and that we are genuine stakeholders in the business of Blackpool FC.

It is important to note that the ethical boycott was only adopted after two years of the Trust trying to engage positively with the owners. Attempts to negotiate, demonstrations, direct public and private appeals were all either ignored or dismissed. The Oystons clearly felt insulated from the mass of supporters. We were considered a small but vocal minority, irresponsible, extreme even.

In fact the Trust, its members and all supporters who want a better future for our football club are principled and reasonable people. We may not own the business that comprises Blackpool FC but we are its most important stakeholders because we are its heart and soul. Without us there would be no business to run. We are the guardians of Blackpool football club and for as long as the Oystons choose to put their own pride and selfishness before the well-being of club, supporters and community, we will continue with the ethical boycott.

Being exiles in your own club is not easy. We would encourage as many supporters as possible to stay connected with the heart and soul in two practical ways:

1) Attend as many away games as you possibly can, especially those within reasonable travelling distance. BST is negotiating away ticket sales either as pay-on-the-gate or via the away club’s website and we will publish details in advance of every away game on our facebook page.

2) Join BST if you have not already done so. There is strength and community in numbers. The Trust will endeavour to keep us all connected while we continue to work for that radical change at Bloomfield Road. You can join the Trust via our website at: www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com and help make a positive difference to the future of your club.

In the meantime, let’s make a passionate display of support for the team at Morecambe. Be loud, be proud, but be legal. The frustration and disappointment of the last several years have been profound and hard to bear, but Blackpool FC is our team. As fans we have a common goal. We need to remain united and to maintain the moral high ground in our quest for that better future.

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