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BST Gazette Column 24/03/2017

BST24/03/2017

It is quite possible that away supporters could outnumber home fans again at Bloomfield Road this Saturday with Hartlepool United being the visitors. Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is strongly encouraging all football fans who are backing the ethical boycott of Bloomfield Road to turn up at Jepson Way at 3pm instead, to watch the other Blackpool team, that’s AFC Blackpool of the north-west counties league, do battle with Oswestry Town in what is being billed as ‘break the gate 2’.

Not that BST members could or would ever change their football allegiance – Blackpool FC will always be our team. But until regime change happens at Bloomfield Road, what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than by giving a boost to the town’s non-league team?

Supporters who attended ‘break the gate 1’ a couple of week-ends ago quadrupled the normal attendance and got their football fix watching a game that had more atmosphere than has been found inside Bloomfield Road of late. They helped provide a cash-injection for the Mechanics, enjoyed a demonstration of walking football at half time and saw tangerine-shirted AFC Blackpool denied a much-deserved win by an injury-time equaliser. Everyone is hoping for even better things on Saturday.

Meanwhile, plans are progressing for what is being called variously Judgement Day 3 and Fans United Day Of Action. On Saturday May 6th, Blackpool FC play their last league game of the season at home to another ‘crisis club’, Leyton Orient. For the unfortunate Orient, it might even be their last game in the football league.

Blackpool Supporters’ Trust and the Football Supporters’ Federation are calling on supporters of all clubs to head to the north-west on that day to show support for the fans of clubs in crisis. Malcolm Clark, chairman of FSF stated recently: “Owners are the temporary guardians of a football club’s heritage and clubs such as Blackpool, Leyton Orient and Coventry City are no exception. Directors, managers and players all come and go but generations of supporters and their families are ever present. We are still, unfortunately, in the position where a handful of club owners are not fit to be guardians of that heritage.”

Supporters from across the country will be descending on Blackpool to offer their solidarity to fans of Blackpool, Leyton Orient and many other clubs with problematic owners. JD3/Fans United Day Of Action will provide a national focal point for all football fans to demonstrate against unpopular owners. It could be the largest football protest in the history of the game. The day of action is named in honour of the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Fans United protests. These saw fans from across the country rally behind Brighton and Hove Albion against nefarious owners and ultimately helped to save the club.

Although for Blackpool fans this is the third annual Judgement Day protest – against an owner and a chairman who really should have taken note of the supporters’ verdict on the two previous occasions - this time our protest against the ownership of the Oyston family is also a demonstration of hope. The continued boycott of Bloomfield Road coupled with the legal actions being taken against the Oystons by Club President Valeri Belokon is creating a financial storm which may prove to be the catalyst for change which we so desperately need. The message which fans can send on May 6th to all football club owners who stand in the way of real progress for club and community is simply this: football without fans is nothing and the removal of obstructive owners is fundamental to the future of our game.

The Trust requests everyone to join the march from the Promenade at South Shore, opposite the Pleasure Beach White Tower entrance and near to the Blackpool FC tram. It will begin at approximately 4pm and move north along the Promenade towards Bloomfield Road, crossing at Trafalgar Rd and Lytham Rd, via Lonsdale Rd to congregate outside the West Stand at Blackpool FC. Stewards and police liaison officers will be on hand to organise the march. There will be a rally outside the ground at approximately 5pm when various speakers will be invited to address the crowd.

Then for those fans who wish to boycott the fixture at Bloomfield Road, an alternative game of football is being organised at the end of the rally. AFC Blackpool is hosting a match between a Fans-for-Diversity X1 and a Clubs-in-Crisis X1, kick off at 6.30pm. Details of those taking part will be released later. BST will be providing transport from Bloomfield Road to Jepson Way for those who require it. To round off the day, there will be a social evening with live music at The Shovels on Common Edge Road.

The fans of Blackpool FC have led the way in the fight against bad owners over the last few years so it is fitting that this event is happening on our own doorstep. We encourage everyone, football fan or not, to come and be part of the change that must happen within our game and specifically at our club.

Be loud, be proud, but most of all - be there!

#FansUnited #WeAreBlackpoolFC

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