The rumour-mill has been working overtime in the last week with all sorts of speculation about what the off-the-field fate of Blackpool FC is likely to be, come the close season. Some of the speculation is fanciful, some of it is clearly misinformed, some of it is probably being voiced to try and draw a response from various parties. Speculation is natural. Everyone who cares about the football club has an interest in the outcome and agrees that the current dire state of affairs cannot carry on indefinitely. The best thing supporters can do is keep up the pressure for change on 6th May ahead of the big court case in London in the June.
Judgement Day has, unfortunately, become something of an annual end-of-season occurrence. It would be a relief to everyone if Judgement Day 3, on 6th May, turned out to be the last time such an event was necessary, if by next year the current owners have ceased to have any connection at all with Blackpool FC and we can all return to active support of the team we love.
When Owen Oyston asked almost exactly a year ago what it was the fans wanted, what would it take to bring them back in numbers to Bloomfield Road, BST advised him that the situation could only begin to be remedied if four key changes were made:
1) All litigation against fans by the owners/the football club had to be terminated. (It is understood there are at least four actions still active.)
2) The club-devised Fans Progress Group should be disbanded and replaced by a democratically elected fans parliament, one which all members of formally constituted fans organisations are eligible to stand for and to vote for, regardless of whether they are season ticket holders or not.
3) Karl Oyston steps down as Chairman of Blackpool FC.
4) The board of Blackpool FC, in conjunction with supporters’ representatives, devises, funds and puts in place plans to overhaul and revitalise the infrastructure of the football club and to return Blackpool FC to the Championship at minimum. These plans should be measurable, have clearly stated outcomes, target dates and appropriate levels of investment. They should be shared with all the club’s supporters.
Despite periodically reiterating this advice, the Supporters’ Trust has seen no evidence that any of these four key changes are in process.
Furthermore, based on the track record of the Oystons, BST has no confidence that such changes might be implemented under the current morally bankrupt regime. Consequently, the members of the Trust continue to hold that a change of ownership is the only viable way to restore the good standing of the club in the community and the only way to give the majority of disaffected supporters sufficient reassurance to return.
Judgement Day 3 will be an opportunity to do three very constructive things.
1) To keep up the public pressure for the Oystons to go. They might be the majority owners but they hang on, dog-in-the-manger fashion, having lost the confidence and respect of the majority of supporters (a broken bond that can never be mended) and their continuing presence is destructive.
2) To demonstrate in numbers that there is still a loyal support for Blackpool FC, a large body of fans waiting in the wings to come back once the Oystons have gone.
3) To stand with fans from other clubs who are coming to Blackpool to call jointly for changes in football governance. The Football Supporters Federation is endorsing JD3 as a Fans United demonstration of football supporter unity. Supporters from many of the 92 league clubs and several non-league clubs will join the JD3 march and rally in favour of governance changes in the game, changes designed to make the travesty that has happened at Blackburn and Blackpool, Charlton, Coventry and Leyton Orient among others less likely to occur in future. The organisations that run the game, the FA and the EFL, are on the back foot at the moment and visible public pressure for governance change could be very timely.
For all three reasons, you are urged to join the march and rally, which has been agreed with and approved by Lancashire Police and Blackpool Council. Football without fans is nothing. The only way fans will return in numbers to Blackpool FC is when the current owners leave our club. It is a straight-forward message and eventually it will prevail. You can help to press the message home. JD3 will be a peaceful and law-abiding demonstration but it will be a very noisy one. If you care about a brighter future for the club, please join us there. Show your passion and let’s make it the biggest protest yet.
The plan is to congregate at 4pm on Saturday 6th May opposite the White Tower entrance to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and then to march along the promenade to Bloomfield Road for a rally. Then for those fans boycotting Bloomfield Road, BST and the FSF have organised an alternative football match featuring a Blackpool XI versus an Orient XI to be played at AFC Blackpool’s ground (with coach transport laid on from Bloomfield Road to AFC Blackpool) kicking off at 6.30pm. Blackpool’s team is managed by Eamonn O’Keefe and includes Carl Lancashire, Gary Brabin, Garry Briggs and John Deary among other notables who have worn the tangerine jersey.
Full details of the day’s events are available on various social media and on the BST FB page and website. More information will also be provided on Fylde Coast Radio’s Friday Sports programme when members of the BST committee will be guests on the show.