Brackley Town masterminded a feat of giant-killing recently when they knocked league one Gillingham out of the FA Cup at the second attempt, to earn themselves a tie against the 1953 cup winners at Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust contacted Brackley Town FC earlier this week ahead of the upcoming 2nd round tie. The Brackley chairman is also a season-ticket holder at Northampton Town and is therefore no stranger to the issues that football fans face when the owner of their club acts in ways that they perceive are more in the interests of the owner than for the long-term good of the club.
An interesting conversation ensued during which the Brackley chairman admitted to being somewhat embarrassed to have been approached by Blackpool FC, apparently on the instructions of Karl Oyston, with the information that BST had raised money to compensate Kidderminster Harriers for loss of FA Cup revenue as a result of the ethical boycott - and with the suggestion that Brackley Town might look to BST to make a similar well-intentioned gesture to the tiny Northamptonshire club.
Is such a move by Blackpool’s chairman unique in English football? Might it even be called undue interference?
If it was prompted by a genuine concern that Brackley Town shouldn’t lose out because of what will probably be yet another record-breaking low attendance at Bloomfield Road, then the Trust suggests that the Oystons consider making a generous charitable donation of their own to Brackley Town – given that it is their actions as custodians of our club that have precipitated the emptying out of the stadium in the first place.
BST may well consider asking its members to make a donation in lieu of buying an FA Cup ticket, but it is equally likely that the Trust will propose that any such donations go to Justice4Fans to help defray the costs of those life-long Blackpool supporters who are still being sued by the Oystons.
On the subject of litigation, with Valeri Belokon’s first court case against the owners looming next month – this one concerning the £7m South Stand commercial agreement – the Oystons appear to have been unsuccessful this week in their appeal to get the hearing deferred to next year and in their attempt to put a limit on costs. As it stands then, the case will be heard at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, commencing on 13th December.
All Blackpool fans ought to be following these events with interest and concern. The outcome of this and the much bigger suit that Mr Belokon is bringing against the Oystons next spring are likely to have far-reaching consequences for the future of Blackpool FC.
BST considers it absolutely wrong that social enterprises such as a football club, which is at the heart of the community and features so prominently in so many lives, can be wrangled over in this way with so little reference to the interests of the most important constituents, the supporters – not just the thousand or so current season-ticket holders but the thousands more who are waiting for this regime to change before they can step back inside Bloomfield Road.
As a Supporters’ Trust we want only what it best for club and community. We want custodianship that will respect the proud history of Blackpool FC and our aspirations to compete again at the highest level, especially as it has been proved recently that this can be done. We want owners with both principles and ambition. It should not be forgotten that it was Valeri Belokon’s arrival and investment that transformed this club a decade ago after twenty years of scrapping along under the Oystons’ less-than-inspiring management. We also want a greater say in how our club is run, to prevent such a dire situation from happening again in future.
The only positives to be taken from the current predicament – apart from a growing sense that it can’t go on indefinitely - are that the manager appears to be in the process of shaping a team that could challenge for promotion with the addition of a decent centre-back and a creative play-maker and that the CEO seems to be a stabilising influence. On the field the decline is being halted. The bigger change now needs to happen off the field.
With the festive season approaching, BST is pleased to announce that it will be donating just over £6,000 to the Gary Parkinson Trust as a result of monies raised by the Trust at the Brett Ormerod game. It is understood that Brett has already made a generous donation to Gary Parkinson out of the proceeds from that game. All being well, the presentation will be made to Gary and his family at the BST Christmas Party, to which event Valeri Belokon has also been invited. Because the Trust is a non-profit-making community benefit society, all the proceeds from the Christmas Party will go to support Blackpool’s Boathouse Youth Charity. Tickets for the event, which will be held on Friday 16th December at the Excelsior on Lytham Road, are on sale now from the BST website and from committee members and cost £5 each. The event will run from 7pm till late with a hot and cold buffet, bar, DJ and live music. We hope to see you there.