Gazette Article Friday 12th January 2021
This week I have handed over the reins of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust to fellow committee member Andy Higgins, after three and a half years at the helm.
My association with BST started back in 2013 when SISA (Seasiders Independent Supporters Association) was formed and I became a member. We voted to become a Trust in 2014, at a time when our club was clearly in a crisis which would only get worse.
It is true that my involvement with BST (beyond simply being a member) came about in October 2014, when Jose Riga was sacked as Blackpool FC manager and the club was spiralling out of control. I phoned up BBC Radio Lancashire to express my opinion on their radio phone in and ended up having a bit of a rant! To this day, I cannot remember what I said but it was from the heart and clearly struck a chord with many Blackpool fans who were listening in. It prompted the BST Chairman, Tim Fielding, to ask me to be a spokesperson for the Trust and the rest, as they say is history!!
The last few years have been beyond extraordinary for our club and its fans. I am stating the obvious when I say that none of us knew what had been set in motion when BST became a reality and we began the long campaign that would ultimately save our football club.
My time as Chair has been dominated by the boycott and Not A Penny More campaign. Wars are fought on many different fronts and BST worked alongside a variety of fan groups, some of whom were also part of BST and some who were not. The coming together of the vast majority of supporters in our campaign to remove the Oyston family from our club is one of the most incredible collective actions I have ever witnessed or been a part of and still makes me emotional to this day. Our strategists and campaigners were drawn from across a range of professions and skill sets; who knew how many talented and utterly brilliant. Blackpool fans exist, not just in Blackpool or the North West but across the world? Cometh the hour, cometh the expert and we were delighted to have help and advice from the legal eagles, accountants, governance experts, business gurus and so on from within our fan base.
Throughout my time on the BST committee, and especially as Chair, I was acutely aware that not every Blackpool fan wanted to follow the path that the majority had taken in our campaign However, it was clear that we all had one thing in common, a love for our football club, and that was something which has united us in these post Oyston days.
I have been so privileged to Chair an organisation that I have such respect and admiration for. It is the supporters of Blackpool FC that make it so special and to have played a part in the biggest battle we have had to face as a club has been an honour. Through this role I have met many diverse and wonderful people, expanded my own knowledge of football governance, gained valuable experience in media and public speaking and learned a great deal about private legal actions for unfair prejudice! It certainly has not been dull!
I have often been asked if I ever doubted if the action we took was the right one and did I fear we would fail. I can honestly say that I always believed our cause was just and that ultimately we would prevail. I am a great believer in the power of truth. As Winston Churchill said: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is”
So what next? For me personally, I will continue to serve on the BST committee and also the Football Supporters Association National Council. These past years have opened my eyes to the larger problem that exists in the shape of football governance that is simply not fit for purpose. Blackpool fans learned the hard way that the current system gives no help or support to supporters and community clubs afflicted with rogue owners. The Blackpool campaign brought so much of what is wrong to the surface and I cannot forget what I have learned just because our problems are now a thing of the past. It is my sincere hope that the Blackpool campaign will prove to have been part of the solution to a better future for the whole of football.
In Simon Sadler we have an owner to be proud of and the Blackpool story really did have a happy ending. Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is one of the most effective and respected Trusts in the country. What a fantastic combination! The opportunity for us to work with our club in mutual respect and common interest is a wonderful prospect and I encourage all Blackpool fans to get on board!
Onward and upward.