We write this newsletter in the aftermath of a very important win over Peterborough, a result which puts more daylight between us and the bottom three and leaves us only five points away from the play offs. This is not a bad spot for a newly promoted team to be in at the half way mark of the season; and as we go into what (COVID permitting) will be a very busy festive period for us, there is plenty to be optimistic about
Christmas is, of course, not a great time of year for everyone. We are very proud that we are so busy in community-based work at the moment. The people of Blackpool are exceedingly generous; our Foodbank appeal on Saturday was very well supported, the Boot bank initiative continues apace and we were pleased to help to promote the fund-raising that will see the Armfield Club host a Christmas meal for the homeless on the 28th December.
Linked to that, our big community facing initiative for this year was to provide a Blackpool shirt for every year 2 child that wanted one in the Blackpool school area. What is a fairly simple concept has been anything but simple to deliver - COVID problems at the supply end of the chain meant that the shirts arrived significantly later than originally planned. However, this means that a gift originally planned to coincide with the beginning of the new school year ended up kicking off the Christmas period instead. We would dearly like to repeat this exercise next year. In fact, we would love to do it every year, if we can. But in order to do so we are going to have to find new ways to raise the money. If you have any good ideas about how we can tackle this, we are always happy to hear them - and you can send them to us courtesy of firstname.lastname@example.org
The Shirts Initiative was a good chance to work closely with the football club and Community Trust, and we hope there will be many more opportunities
In that spirit, we are pleased in this Newsletter to tell you about a very worthy BFCCT initiative known as “Pool Together”. This is Blackpool FC Community Trust’s referral programme for lonely or isolated people in and around Blackpool. The Trust offers a wide range of activities that include social groups to physical activity, for all ages. People who may benefit from their range of activities are referred in through partner agencies such as GPs, Blackpool Volunteer Service, Blackpool CAB or they refer themselves when they recognise that they are struggling.
The Community Navigation Team will pick up the referral and triage them as is necessary for that individual. This could be one simple phone call, a number of calls to build up a relationship or a garden gate visit for someone who requires extra support and encouragement. Ultimately, the aim is to encourage those individuals to attend regular sessions, which will help improve their health and wellbeing.
One common denominator of the people that attend these activities is that they live on the Fylde Coast, and predominantly live in Blackpool. Many of them are Blackpool fans, too, so people are in good company.
If you know someone who is lonely or isolated and would like some support then contact Rachel on 07597 786098 or email@example.com
The lead up to Saturday’s game was of course dominated by a worsening position on COVID that meant that clubs the length and breadth of the country had no choice but to bring in strict new conditions of entry to grounds. We commend the club on getting out their initial guidance quickly and following it up with more as the position became clearer. You will recall that we also put guidance of our own out to you in the middle of last week; and fans seemed to respond by arriving promptly and being well organised on the day of the game. This may have to become a habit over the coming weeks.
A very successful year
By any standards, this has been a really good year for the Supporters Trust. It ended well, with a very successful election campaign for vacancies on the Committee and a high-quality AGM at the Armfield on 4 December.
We were very encouraged by how our election process went this year. Five strong candidates for three places led to a hefty turnout of over 51% that we are told by colleagues at the Football Supporters Association (FSA) was amongst the best anywhere in the country. Neil Holden and Mark Turner bring new blood, new energy and new ideas to what we do. And they are joined by Tim Fielding, who needs no introduction for anyone who remember the leading role that BST played in steering us through the boycott years. With Andy Higgins, Tony Hodgson and Francis Charlesworth continuing as Chair, Treasurer and Membership Secretary we are strongly placed as a team for what lies ahead.
What DOES lie ahead is taking forward the fan-led review which Tracey Crouch published at the end of November. This was - and is - a monumental piece of work covering many aspects of the game which desperately need reform. She has set out some clear ideas on governance, supporter engagement, regulation, finance, player welfare, owner and Director conduct and even found time to propose a separate review of how the women’s game will be developed in future years.
Her work has been widely welcomed by fans, if not by some EPL Chief Executives, and is set to be a key feature of English football throughout 2022. Our hope is the Government will find room for it in the next Queen’s Speech, which would mean that new arrangements can be in place in 2023.
The implications for clubs, and for Supporters Trusts, are far-reaching. We expect that a feature of our communications with you in 2022 will be a series of articles and briefings explaining what is happening, and how it will change things for Blackpool fans everywhere. As far as 2021 goes, we were very proud to have been selected to give oral evidence to Ms. Crouch and her expert Panel; we put in written evidence too, which remains available for all to read on our website, and some parts of it found their way into Ms. Crouch’s final report.
We may not have got everything we asked for from the Review, but what is proposed will be a valuable prize if the Government now delivers it. New guidance for fans will be on the BST website before Christmas and we hope that it gives you a better idea of what is happening - and what to look out for. For the latest information regarding the fan-led review visit the link below
On the national stage
Punching our weight in the national arena has been something we have always prided ourselves on. You will recall that we were the first fans group to call for an independent regulator back in 2018, which - like Jimmy Armfield - makes us years ahead Panel; of our time. The fans’ movement wasn’t ready for the idea then, but it clearly is now.
We’ve also had a good year in terms of inputting into policy at the national level, particularly around the proposals for an independent regulator, where we were able to bring our combination of experience and expertise to bear. The FSA evidence to the Crouch Review has been hugely successful in setting the agenda for what is yet to come - don’t let anyone tell you that football fans have nothing to offer to how clubs and the game are run.
Perhaps the crowning glory for BST this year has been the success of Tony Wilkinson at the national level.
Tony is well known to many of our members for his key role in organising the Blackpool FC Volunteers - a hardy group who do amazing things in and around Bloomfield Road to help the club in presenting the stadium to fans in the best condition possible. But this is only part of the contribution that he makes.
He has served on the FSA National Council for a number of years as a League One / League Two representative; our promotion in May meant that Tony had to stand again to be a Championship representative this year. Being as well regarded as he is, this proved no problem to him and he was elected to that role earlier in the year.
However, even more was to come, as Tony was elected to serve on the Board of the FSA a couple of weeks ago. This is a truly prestigious position, and his success speaks volumes about how hard he works for fans across the country, and how highly he is regarded by others who do the same. Tony, we are very proud of you.
You may get the impression it has been a hectic year; and more of the same is sure to come in 2022. At a time like this, your support is more important than ever before, and you can do your bit by telling friends who are not BST Members, or are possibly lapsed Members, what we do. We are delighted to welcome in new friends at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to go for all the details.
The festive period is a brief moment to take stock, hopefully watch some football, and enjoy spending time with our families. We wish all our members and their families a very Merry Christmas, and a peaceful and healthy New Year.