It is truly a strange time to be a Blackpool supporter. Fleetwood Town are a division above us and their chairman says their goal is Championship football. AFC Fylde, in a brand new stadium, have a target to achieve Football League status in as short a time as possible. All of this ambition contrasts markedly with the sickly aspect of the ‘biggest’ club on the Fylde.
Our club, Blackpool FC, has often been compared to an ailing patient – not quite on life-support yet, but certainly in a dodgy state after years of poor care, one might even say neglect. It needs a massive transfusion, if not a transplant of heart and soul, to heal it. Right now there is no sign of that happening and it looks as though the patient is stuck on a trolley in a corridor being given just enough passing attention from time to time to keep it ticking over!
Here we sit half-way down division four. We are not making criticism of the quality of football at this level of the game, though it is obviously in marked contrast to what Blackpool fans had been enjoying five years ago. The issue is more with the prognosis.
What does the future hold under the current ownership but more of what we’ve been subjected to in the last four seasons? A risk-averse ‘business’ led approach to running our football club that tries to maximise profit while minimising expenditure, delivering under-achievement on the pitch and despondency off it.
Where is the evidence to back up Owen Oyston’s words that he wants the club to rise once more? What happened to the assurance that the suing of fans would cease? Where is the ambitious investment in a squad that will propel Blackpool FC up the divisions? What happened to the plans to upgrade the training facilities? What chance that the owners would ever make radical changes to the way the club is run? We think we all know the answers to those questions.
This week-end, Blackpool FC will host Plymouth Argyle in the league on Saturday. Bloomfield Road will be three-quarters empty. On Sunday, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust will be co-hosting a celebration game for Brett Ormerod, Blackool legend, at AFC Fylde. Brett will be playing for one last time alongside Matt Gilks, Ian Evatt, Keith Southern, Charlie Adam, David Vaughan, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and a host of Tangerine All-Stars, taking the opportunity to say good-bye to the fans that he wasn’t able to do in 2012. There is no doubting which game will draw the bigger crowd of the week-end. That just underlines what a strange time it is in the life of the club when such an event happens away from Bloomfield Road, when the vast majority of Blackpool fans are self-declared exiles in their own club until there is a significant and demonstrable change in how the club is run.
To revert to the medical analogy, we as loyal supporters of Blackpool FC don’t want our club to die. We don’t have any intention of changing our allegiance to Fleetwood Town or AFC Fylde despite the fact that some of us will seek our football fix there while the issues at Blackpool remain unresolved. Nor do we have any interest in creating a phoenix club to rival Blackpool FC (as was done at Wimbledon). We are tangerine through and through, we are Blackpool FC and we want our own club back, but we have come to the view that the only realistic way in which the patient is going to be revived and restored to health is via a major transplant. We want the Oystons to sell and we are actively pursuing a suitable donor.