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The world we live in now

BST GAZETTE ARTICLE : 11 MARCH 2022


Since we last wrote this column, the global landscape has been completely transformed - and not in a good way. Like all of you, we have been shocked by some of the desperate scenes of suffering that are being broadcast on our televisions every night. Like you, we are nervous about what might happen next - for ALL our sakes.


It is worth reminding ourselves that the Ukrainians are suffering under this barbarism for the “crime” of electing to determine their own futures and live in a burgeoning democracy. It is a freedom that we tend to take for granted, but at the moment it is literally a matter of life and death for them. Quite apart from their safety, there is an important principle at stake here.


Given this moral dimension, the initial reaction of both FIFA and UEFA has been desperately disappointing. Their original response was to tell Russia that they could continue to compete in world and European football, albeit on neutral territory and under the banner of the Football Union of Russia - without their national anthems. It was a slap on the wrists that the International Olympic Committee would be proud of, and it demonstrates how far out of touch football’s ruling bodies are, that they thought this was in any way an acceptable response.


Fortunately, some of their member Associations were quick to point out the error of their ways. Poland made it very clear that they would not be playing Russia in a World Cup play-off under ANY circumstances ; and Sweden and the Czech Republic were quick to follow. We are pleased that our own FA, together with those of Scotland, Wales, Norway and others also made it clear that Russia is now a footballing pariah, along with everything else.


It is often said that football and politics does not - and should not - mix. Unfortunately, this does not match up to the reality of the world in which we now live. Despots the world over understand the soft power and respectability that can come from being associated with major sporting events - and it is no coincidence that countries like Russia, China AND Qatar have already spent huge sums of money to buy it. It also explains (for example) why a country like Saudi Arabia wants to effectively take over world golf by creating a Tour that is supposed to supplant that run by the PGA.


This is not merely a question of buying tournaments. The saga around the ownership of Chelsea that has blown up in the last fortnight has exposed the fact that we do not always know nearly enough about the people who are buying up these precious community assets, or about what their intentions are.


The Saudi vehicle used to buy Newcastle United epitomises the dilemma that we face very well ; some fans of the club are naturally excited by the potential spending power that the club now has, and what that means for on-field success. Goodness only knows, they have waited long enough for it.


But if you also want your football club to be a community hub that leads local efforts to help the disadvantaged - they may not be the kind of owners you had in mind. Call us cynics, but we don’t think the life chances of people in Byker and South Tyneside is the talk of the Royal Palaces in Riyadh. We should count ourselves lucky that we have an owner and a Community Trust that we know will work as hard as possible for local people ; and at BST we want to help them in any way we can.


Going back to the Ukraine - one of the few plus points to come out of this tragedy has been the extraordinary generosity and compassion shown by people from many countries close to the fighting and beyond. The footballing world is also trying to respond in the same way and we at BST are this week discussing how we can help lead the effort in our town to complement that in other areas up and down the country. Watch out for more from us on this - and thank you in advance for any support you can give.



Closer to home


The tone of this article has so far been much darker than we would like - so we will move on to something much more positive. From Monday of next week, Nathan Fogg’s book “How Not To Run A Football Club” will be on sale in bookshops around the country.


Nathan spent countless hours interviewing key figures in Blackpool and Latvia to chronicle some of the extraordinary events that have befallen our football club in recent years. While we were not alone in having to suffer a prolonged period of crisis, what makes our case unusual is the sheer volume of archive material - and court reporting! - that tells us the who, what and how of what is one of the most compelling stories in football.


Nathan will be doing a book signing and Q&A event at the Armfield Club from 2.00 p.m. on Sunday 20 March under the heading “Protests, Boycotts and Court Cases”. Do get along if you can.


If you care about the health of football clubs in this country it will be a great read - if you care about Blackpool FC in particular, it will be a MUST read. Well done Nathan, and good luck!



And finally….. the BST Survey


Many thanks to the hundreds of you who completed our recent Survey, in which we asked for your feedback on what BST’s priorities should be for the future.


As always, you offered us some high quality insights and ideas which the Committee were due to discuss at our monthly meeting this week. We will be publicising the main findings very shortly. We will also address the issues you raised in our monthly Members Newsletter for March, and on wider social media ,in order to make sure we reach the significant number of non-Members who also took part. If you are one of those people, remember that a range of fixed period and life Memberships are available and you can take one out by contacting Francis Charlesworth at memberships@blackpoolsupporterstrust.com




BST

March 2022





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