On Wednesday evening, exactly a week after the High Court ruling that a Receiver should be appointed, confirmation came that the order has now been sealed by the court. This is the first step towards the Court Appointed Receiver, Paul Cooper, taking complete control of Blackpool Football Club, with enforcement of that control commencing imminently. By the time you read this Mr Cooper will have met with staff at the club, with Terry McPhillips, his coaches and players and with representatives from Blackpool fans’ groups.
As we edge steadily towards what we anticipate will be the final departure of the Oystons and the sale of the club to new owners, we can start thinking realistically about putting to rights all the things that have gone sliding in recent years. Above all, we can imagine reinstating the values and spirit that made Blackpool FC such a special institution in all of our lives in the first place.
Talking of the way it was, Blackpool legend Tony Green when interviewed for a book about Blackpool back in the early 1970s (by which time he was a Newcastle United player) had this to say: ‘The first result I look for is Blackpool’s, because Blackpool gave me my first big chance in English football…I am sure that, in the whole country, there is no friendlier football club than Blackpool. It’s a happy club. I sometimes read that some clubs are split into this camp and that camp. Some clubs have cliques. There was none of that at Blackpool. At Bloomfield Road there’s terrific friendliness… Blackpool Football Club has something that money can’t buy.’
As the Court Appointed Receiver commences his complex task at Bloomfield Road (where he can expect to find a can of very long worms) it really is an opportunity for everyone who holds the club in their hearts to come together and prove that the special spirit Tony Green described so well is just waiting to re-establish itself (an inherent quality of Blackpool supporters) after the toxic years.
The future is opening up before us and it’s up to each one of us to help make what we can of the club. To truly succeed, we will need to pull together as a fan base, regardless of past differences, keeping in focus what unites us. As the BST website states: ‘We believe that a football club belongs first and foremost to the community of its supporters’ and now it’s all about helping to shape the future, making Blackpool Football Club the best it can be once again for the fans and the town of Blackpool.
The Trust has set up a volunteer database of people who are willing to help get Blackpool FC back on its feet and ready for business as soon as the Receiver is in full control. We do not know exactly what will need to be done but it is possible that help may be required to sell tickets, clean up the stadium, assist with maintenance issues et cetera. If we can have a volunteer army ready to turn up in numbers to get our club spick and span and put some pride back into the place, it will be a step forward and a great help to the Receiver.
If you are able to assist, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details (which will be stored securely). If you could state what area you could help with – cleaning, catering, gardening, electrical, plumbing – that will help us to target the help available to the right area. You will also be able to sign up for this at Saturday’s BST General Meeting (details below).
Additionally, if you are a business that used to sponsor or support football at Bloomfield Road in happier times and/or a business that would like to connect with the community via the football club moving forward, the Receiver will be happy to discuss opportunities with you. In addition you might like to check out how you could benefit from BST’s business networking – have a look at the Business Directory menu option on the BST website.
Ever since the court decision a week ago, boycotting fans have been agonising over when it will be okay to return to Bloomfield Road; i.e. without the possibility of any ticket monies finding their way into Oyston coffers. From our initial meeting with the Court Appointed Receiver, it is now clear that even if Paul Cooper gets access to the club before this weekend, financial measures will take longer to establish and therefore it is likely that any revenue from tickets purchased for the Oxford game on Saturday will be under Oyston’s control. Whilst this is obviously disappointing, BST is recommending that the boycott/NAPM continues until the Receiver confirms that he has that full financial structure in place. We believe that will be accomplished in good time for the home game against Southend on Saturday 9th March to be pencilled in as the big homecoming that so many Blackpool fans are longing for.
Finally, the Trust is holding its first General Meeting of the year tomorrow, Saturday 23rd February, at 11:00am at the Village Hotel, Herons Reach, Blackpool. It is a public meeting so anyone can attend, BST member or not; (and if you are not a member, it’s a great opportunity to come and check us out). There is a licensed bar and it promises to be something of a celebration. The agenda is quite fluid but will include an appearance by Paul Stewart explaining the background to his consortium’s bid for the club, a lengthy Q&A session about Receivership and the next steps in the process and discussion of ideas to make the 9th March homecoming a truly momentous occasion. We hope to be joined by some of our ex-players too. Blackpool are back! We hope to see you there.