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BST Gazette Column 21/12/2018

BST21/12/2018

Pool have earned a 3rd round FA Cup tie at home to Arsenal in the New Year – a good opportunity for the manager and players, another conflicting time for Blackpool fans, especially those holding firm with the ethical boycott/not a penny more.

The result of Tuesday night’s replay against Solihull Moors, with barely 1,000 Blackpool fans inside the stadium, means there will now be an opportunity on January 5th for the wider Blackpool community to play their part in supporting the long-suffering fans of Blackpool FC who are looking for the departure of the Oystons from our football club.

Under normal circumstances, a home fixture against Premier League opposition of the calibre of Arsenal would be cause for great excitement and give Blackpool fans the opportunity to pack out Bloomfield Rd. Unfortunately, as we know only too well, circumstances at our club are anything but normal and therefore we are asking once again for Blackpool fans and the people of Blackpool to boycott this FA Cup fixture. Thousands of Blackpool fans, many of whom are lifelong season ticket holding supporters, have sacrificed their right to attend fixtures which financially benefit the owners. It is a principled effort to remove the Oystons once and for all from our club. BST believes that the boycott by regular Blackpool fans will hold, just as it did when Blackpool reached Wembley for the League 2 play offs.

However, Blackpool is a town full of people who are not locals and don’t have any real affinity to Blackpool FC. These people may wish to attend this one off game as it gives an opportunity to see a Premier League side in action. BST fully understands this but would like to point out that the burden of removing rogue owners who have caused such damage to our club and our town has been left on the shoulders of the regular supporters for whom Blackpool FC is a lifelong passion. Purchasing tickets for this one off game means that anyone doing so is actively undermining the long and painful sacrifice which so many of us are making.

Whilst we accept that every person has a democratic right to choose whether they attend or not, we can only respectfully request that you make a conscious decision not to do so. We are fighting for the future of our football club and in the grander scheme of things, this one off game is nowhere near as important as that. The game will be televised and what better chance do we have to show those watching at home that things are not all they seem at Blackpool? The FA and the EFL should be embarrassed. The current majority owner of Blackpool FC has been shown to pocket money for himself and his private businesses, while attempting to sue fans who spoke out about his actions. If Owen Oyston had even spent a small fraction of those millions on the club, then perhaps Bloomfield Road would not be as empty as it regularly is.

Our strength lies in unity and we hope that an outstanding act of collective boycotting will send the strongest message yet that Blackpool FC belongs to its supporters and community and it is time for Mr Oyston to go.

BST intends to try and do one more thing for Saturday 5th January and that is to contact, confirm and then publicise a list of pubs from Fleetwood right down to Lytham that will be televising the game on the day so that boycotting fans who want to watch it with other fans for the atmosphere can plan to do so, like a series of mini fanzones. It’s not only a chance to experience the game with other fans without giving anything to the Oystons, it’s also an opportunity to support local businesses instead on match day.

In a less contentious vein, it was a real privilege for representatives of the BST committee to attend the Armfield Academy last week as part of the ‘Fans supporting foodbanks’ initiative.

BST had invited the local community to donate foodbank items at two organised collections outside Blackpool FC at the two previous home games. A member of staff at the Armfield Academy became aware of this and arranged for the students to make their own collection, which was then donated via BST to our nominated charities, Home-Start Blackpool and HIS Provisions on Central Drive.

The Armfield Academy only opened its doors in September this year and currently has pupils from Reception and year 7. This will expand over the next few years as the new school buildings are completed until eventually the Academy will cater for children from nursery through to age 16. Jimmy Armfield was involved in the early stages of this school project and helped to develop the ethos and direction that the Academy will take.

One of the main ideas which underpins this educational establishment is the intention for the pupils to accept their individual and collective responsibilities as members of a wider community. Head teacher Mark Kilmurray explained to us that he believed very strongly in the need for the school to play an interactive part with the local community and therefore when they heard about the BST foodbank, it was a good opportunity for the pupils to play their part.

BST was delighted to have been invited to accept these items from the pupils and to meet some of the students and staff. It is to be hoped that in the future, this school which bears the name of one of Blackpool FC’s greatest servants, will be able to be involved in the natural partnership between the football club, the Community and Supporters’ Trusts and the local area. We thank the pupils and staff of the Armfield Academy for their support.

On behalf of the committee of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas.

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