Gazette Column - 27th August 2021

LIFE INSIDE BST


So, the regime change most of us wanted has happened. A new owner who has ambition and wants to invest is in place. Promotion back to the Championship has been secured. It’s time for BST - the bye word for organised protest - to pack up and go home, isn’t it? Read on……


The first thing to say is that Supporters Trusts are only about protest in the worst cases. For the vast majority, the day job is about working collaboratively with their club where possible, holding them to account where necessary, but above all helping to cement the place of the club in the local community. More progress, than protest, you might say.


This kind of work takes many forms. In recent years, the world of Supporters Trusts has become strongly linked with initiatives like Food banks. Leaving the politics of why these are needed aside, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the work of feeding the neediest and most vulnerable in our communities is a long way from done. Ultimately, it helps save and nurture life, and like all Trusts we know, we are determined to be part of the local effort. Our Food bank collections began again in earnest before the Cardiff home game - and we will be stepping up our efforts in the time before the Fulham match, including (for the first time) organising home collections for those who want to help but would find it hard to come to us. if you want to take advantage of this, contact Francis Charlesworth at memberships@blackpoolsupporterstrust.com



At Blackpool, the other big initiative we are working closely with the club on is that which will give a club shirt to every Year 2 Pupil in Blackpool who wants one. You will hear more about this from us, and our friends at BFC and the Community Trust, over the coming days and weeks, but it is yet another example of how Trusts can and do work to promote their clubs with their own area.


This is an especially poignant initiative for us. The prolonged boycott of the club felt very necessary ; but we undoubtedly lost half a generation of young supporters while it was going on and we feel it is vitally important to close that gap. It has cost us a good deal of money to do it - and we need to think hard about how we would fund any repeat - but it is the right thing to do . In fact, it is the kind of thing our Members often tell us they expect us to do.


One vital part of our local community is the football club itself. It is (at last) emerging from a prolonged period of neglect, but the damage runs deep and dealing with it has undoubtedly been hampered by COVID.


This is an area where the BFC volunteers have really stepped up. The group is open to everyone who wants to come along and help. The work is very varied and there is always plenty of it, be it cleaning, painting, repairing, or even helping out in the ticket office. Whatever the tasks are, what they all have in common is the huge satisfaction that comes from making a difference. The BFC volunteers have been the unsung heroes in many ways ; but we know first hand how much everyone in the club - from Simon Sadler down - appreciates what they do. All newcomers are welcome, all you have to do is to get in touch at bfcvolunteers53@gmail.com


Whilst all this local work keeps us very busy, there is (always) a wider picture to focus on as well. At the moment, we have two main areas competing for our attention :


1) the fan-led review. This is probably a one-off opportunity for ordinary fans to have a say in how the game in England is run, and we at BST have made a concerted effort to be at the heart of the work. As well as submitting our own written evidence, and meeting with Tracey Crouch and her Panel to give oral evidence, we have also had a significant involvement in the preparation of evidence provided by the Football Supporters Association (FSA).

2) sadly, while we may not be protesting about how our club is run, the same cannot be said for all clubs, and in the last few months we have had a growing number of supporters groups from up and down the country contacting us for advice and seeking to learn from our experiences. Good standards of governance of English clubs is still some way away, and we are determined that fans of other clubs who face these kind of problems will not do so alone



This work is not going to go away soon. Ms. Crouch is due to publish her final report in October, but our work with and within the FSA will probably steadily increase in the period beforehand, and we expect there will be huge amounts to do after her recommendations - and the Government response to them - are known. The ramifications for the FSA and for individual Trusts are huge, and if you feel you have something to offer in these areas there will never be a better time to step forward and contact us.


You can study all the work we have done in this area in the “Fan-Led Review” section of our website at https://www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com


Whatever the future holds, it seems clear that fans will have a voice and a say in the outcome ; if you want to be part of what is by far Blackpool’s biggest democratically-elected fans group, then our Membership Secretary Francis will always be very glad to advise you on the range of membership options available . You can contact him at memberships@blackpoolsupporterstrust.com




BST

August 2021



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