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BST Gazette Column 16/09/2016


This Saturday 17th September, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust will be holding an open meeting for members and supporters at the Excelsior pub on Lytham Rd, commencing at 1pm.

These are difficult days for supporters of Blackpool FC. The Supporters’ Trust needs to represent as many fans as possible. It is love for our football club that unites us. BST is an open and democratic organisation – our members ARE the Trust and decide what direction we should take. Most Blackpool fans are in agreement that the best solution to our current predicament would be for new owners to take over the club. Disagreement arises as to whether that is a realistic ideal and if so, how it can be brought to fruition.

Debate is healthy and having strong opinions represented and expressed on all sides is a good thing. It is the essence of openness and democracy. Problems arise when comments become abusive or personal and actions become threatening and even violent. Blackpool Supporters’ Trust has never condoned abusive, threatening or violent behaviour and never will.

We seek to inform our members, to shine a light on the inner workings of the football club and to provide evidence of matters relating to the bigger picture of the Oystons’ ownership, so that every member can make their own decisions based on facts.

The membership of BST has given a mandate to the committee to engage with the Oystons on two matters only:
• the sale of Blackpool FC to new owners or
• wholesale and radical change in the structure of the boardroom (replacing the chairman, appointing an elected fan representative to the board with 20% voting rights)
Currently our members do not want us to have any other dialogue.

The Trust supports the ethical boycott of Blackpool FC and Oyston related businesses, as was explained in last week’s Gazette column. That is the majority view of the membership. However, we uphold the principle of the individual’s right to choose – so you can perfectly well be a member of BST without supporting the ethical boycott or the Not A Penny More campaign – and if you have not yet joined the Trust, we urge you to do so.

BST committee elections take place annually. Each year, 3 of the 9 members stand down and are eligible for re-election, along with any other member who wishes to be considered. There has been some unrest recently among the membership due to the fact that 1 of the 9 people currently on the committee has chosen to go to some home games this season. Within a democratic organisation, that individual right to choose extends to committee members to make their own decision about such matters and the Trust has no authority to intervene or impose conditions on committee members that are not imposed on general members. It is up to the members to vote based on the issues and eventually every existing committee member will be up for re-election.

Whilst it is vital that the Trust, as an organisation, supports all members in their decisions, it is also necessary for us to take a position on the important issues facing us as supporters. That position is always a reflection of the majority view. Currently the campaign to have owners who put football first, of which the ethical boycott is one strategy, is undoubtedly the most important as it is fundamental to our future as a football club.

Passions among fans are running high and it is not possible for BST to control all elements of the fan base; that is not our remit. As a Trust, we can only represent our members and adhere to the constitution.

Blackpool FC and the Oyston family are currently linked together and it is impossible to sustain one without feeding the other. This goes to the heart of the problem for fans who want to support their team but do not want to help the current owners to continue with their unacceptable running of the club. These are the issues to be debated and therefore we encourage everyone to get involved, to join the Trust and to vote on Trust policy. BST members ARE the Trust. We look forward to seeing you at our meeting on Saturday, whether you are going to the game or not.

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