Most Blackpool fans have forgotten what it feels like to look forward to match day, so the fixture with Accrington Stanley last Saturday was probably the most eagerly anticipated game for many since Brett Ormerod’s testimonial in 2016.
The postponement of the game was greeted with extreme disappointment on all sides but unfortunately, continuous sub zero temperatures is not something that clubs like Accrington have the funds to combat. The efforts made by Andy Holt and his team of staff and volunteers to get the game on should be acknowledged and it is to be hoped that Blackpool fans will be able to attend the rearranged fixture in the same spirit as was evident for this one.
One thing that stood out in the run up to last Saturday was how the prospect of this fixture raised the spirits of so many of us. The hospitality of Andy Holt, arguably one of the best owners in football at the present time, and the solidarity with Blackpool fans shown by the Accrington supporters, was enough to give heart to the most depressed Blackpool supporter and was surely a great example of the football family coming together. The timing of the original fixture was also key seeing as it was due to take place shortly before the date agreed for a court hearing to appoint a receiver to oversee the selling of Oyston assets. Finally, something is happening! Whilst the uncertainty is causing a certain amount of fear and trepidation, the overwhelming feeling emanating from Blackpool supporters is that of HOPE.
Of course, these are early days and we do not yet know how this long running saga is going to play out, but most Blackpool fans will agree that the last few weeks have felt a whole lot better than most of the preceding months have done.
In the event of a court receiver being appointed – and at the time of writing, this looks to be the most likely option – we will be moving into uncharted waters. With this in mind, BST has written to the EFL and asked for some clarification with regards to what happens next. We understand that owing to the many uncertainties which currently exist, it is not a straightforward situation and the EFL are unable to make a concrete statement at this stage. This is new territory for us all and we believe it is without precedent for the EFL. However, we have pointed out that it would be prudent to do some planning to prepare for how we expect events to proceed and as a Trust, we are keen to engage with the EFL to start some constructive and active engagement now, rather than after the court hearing. We have again offered them the case review model which BST first shared with them last year. This could be a useful vehicle to proactively engage with stakeholders in preparation for what may happen. You can view a copy of this case review at www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com under the Governance section.
There is considerable concern about the possibility of a points deduction should a court receiver be appointed and this is one of the main issues we are trying to obtain information about. The points deduction for clubs going into administration was originally introduced to redress the balance where clubs had overspent, causing the need for administration, but where the club had been unfairly advantaged by that overspending, albeit temporarily. A court receivership is not the same as administration but is still categorised as an insolvency event, hence the concern about a points deduction. However, not even the EFL can claim that Blackpool FC have been unfairly advantaged by the way the club has been run – unfairly DISadvantaged would be more accurate – and so it remains to be seen if the football authorities will simply apply the rules because they exist or if they will actually use some discretion.
In preparation for the next stage of the Blackpool FC drama, BST have also held a meeting with Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden and have others planned with local MPs Cat Smith and Paul Maynard. We will also try to arrange similar meetings with Ben Wallace and Mark Menzies. It is vital at this critical time for our club that all possible avenues of help are explored and BST will continue to monitor the situation, press for answers, be as proactive as possible and are ready to engage with potential new owners on behalf of ALL Blackpool fans.
It has been a long and weary battle and as events unfold in the coming weeks, we encourage all Blackpool fans to remain calm and positive. Change is coming and although we don’t yet know what that change will look like, we do know that the heart of Blackpool FC is its fans and that heart is beating strongly.