BST General Meeting Minutes 18th February 2017:
1) Blue Room Project: The Blue Room Community Pub Group interested in buying The Blue Room/Stanley Arms has put in a bid for the property. This is the place where Blackpool FC was founded in 1887. The outcome of the bid should be known in the next couple of weeks. If unsuccessful, that will be the end of the venture. If successful, then plans will proceed for the Blue Room to be renovated as a community pub and hub. BST is supportive in principle. The Blue Room could provide a base for BST in the town, a place to hold regular members meetings and social future functions.
2) Fylde Coast Radio: Fylde Coast Radio has invited BST to engage with fans next Friday evening 24th February. The Friday Sports programme is broadcast from 5-7pm and BST committee members will be on air between 6 and 7pm to answer fans’ questions. These can be emailed in advance or phoned in live to the station. Hopefully this programme will be the first of many such opportunities that will allow BST another channel of direct communication with Blackpool fans.
3) Open Invitation to Gary Bowyer: Several members have suggested that BST should invite manager Gary Bowyer to a meeting of supporters organised by the Trust. This proposal was carried by a ‘show of hands’ in the room. Action: BST secretary to write to Gary Bowyer with a formal invitation.
4) The Pledge: The idea of a ‘Pledge’ was formally proposed – a mechanism by which supporters could indicate their intention to return to Bloomfield Road once regime change has occurred. The purpose is two-fold – to demonstrate to current and potential future owners the strength of supporter numbers ‘in waiting’; to give fans something positive to sign up to for the future of the club (beyond membership of the Trust). Discussion in the room as to how to progress the idea was inconclusive so it was decided to put the proposal on the backburner temporarily.
5) Gary Parkinson: Gary Parkinson’s wife Debbie was presented with a cheque for £6,500 by BST, following a successful fundraising campaign. Debbie said the money would go a long way to giving Gary a few luxuries, for example, a weekend away from the daily pressures or a private carer for a short time. Well done to everyone who assisted in the fund-raising activity.
6) Ethical Boycott: It is widely recognised that the ongoing ethical boycott is the big protest campaign of this season. It has already seen a number of record low attendances inside Bloomfield Road. The prolonged boycott by Blackpool fans is setting a precedent and making a significant impact. In conjunction with the legal action being brought by Latvia it increases the leverage for regime change.
At the same time, it is vital that fans don’t turn against fans (those who stay out versus those who go in). The boycott is a matter of personal choice and individual conscience. More supporters are joining the campaign all the time and even many of those who still attend home games would welcome a change of owners.
As the pressure for change intensifies, it is important to become re-united as a fan base and to start healing such rifts as exist in advance of regime change so there are not divisions and recriminations in the aftermath of that change.
7) Volunteers Wanted: There are many tasks that BST engages in driven by a range of sub-committee groups (community, enterprise, governance, media and membership). It is a wide spread that stretches the energy and resources of 9 committee members and the Trust is looking for members with time and energy to get involved and help with some of our initiatives. If members are willing but are not sure how they can assist, the sub-committee groups will find best fits. Action: If any members can help out with time and skills, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details.
8) Walking Football: Blackpool’s Senior Seasiders Walking Football Group are currently housed at AFC Blackpool and the clubhouse there has been damaged by a series of break-ins in recent months. The Walking Football Group have asked BST for help as a community initiative and have proposed a ‘break the gate’ event to encourage as many fans as possible (ideally 300-400) to attend an AFC Blackpool home game thereby raising much needed funds for repair of the clubhouse. The SSWFG will organise a demo of walking football at half-time to dispel any myths about the game and to encourage older BST members to sign up. The members believe it is important that the Trust carries on supporting community events and it was agreed by a show of hands to support this walking football initiative. The date favoured is Saturday 25th March when AFC Blackpool are at home to Oswestry (and Blackpool FC are at home to Hartlepool). Action: BST committee to publicise the initiative to all members via newsletter and generally on the website and via social media.
9) Court Case Update: A summary of events was given from the day of final submissions in the first court case (the joint commercial venture of the South Stand). Trust VP Tim Fielding provided a legal perspective. The legal team for the claimants (JSC Baltic International Bank) had delivered a very professional case and were optimistic that the judge would find in Mr Belokon’s favour, increasing the chances of a successful action in the second, bigger suit to be heard in London in June. Action: BST committee to make a written summary of the first case available on the Trust website.
10) End Of Season Plans: Blackpool’s last game of the season kicks off at 5.30 on Saturday 6th May. Various initiatives were discussed, including a march starting from two points, ie. The Bloomfield Brewhouse and the Excelsior and meeting at the ground and static protests depicting various events that have shaped the football in the last five years. There was also a request to contact local MPs and get them involved. The BST events team will discuss the various ideas. Action: Any member can forward creative ideas to any member of the committee – all valid email addresses are on the ‘Contact Us’ page of the BST website.
In addition, Andy Higgins who leads the governance sub-committee, advised that the Trust is hoping to help co-ordinate a march down Wembley way on cup final day, with representation from all 92 league clubs, to protest to the FA regarding the way clubs, particularly those in crisis, are being run by their chairmen.
AOB) A second meeting of the North-West Football Supporters Federation is earmarked for 1st March at a meeting place near Preston on the M6. It is an open meeting. Action: BST committee to publicise details via social media as soon as the FSF finalises arrangements.