Blackpool Supporters’ Trust Newsletter #37 February 2019
These are exciting and eventful days for supporters of Blackpool football club as we edge ever closer to the regime change we have campaigned so long for – and the promise of a return to Bloomfield Road. They have also been extremely busy days for the BST committee, so apologies that much of what has transpired in the last few days has appeared on our website, social media platforms and in local and national newspapers rather than being reported to the membership directly via email. This latest newsletter looks to remedy that – and bring up to date anyone who is not an avid follower of online fans forums and twitter feeds. It contains important information on a number of initiatives, including updated details of BST’s General Meeting in Blackpool this Saturday – one not to be missed. We hope to see many of you there.
In London’s High Court on Wednesday, Justice Marcus Smith ruled, at the request of Valeri Belokon’s legal team, to appoint an equitable receiver to oversee the disposition of the assets of holding company Segesta (Owen’s shares in Blackpool FC, the football stadium, training ground and hotel) in order to finally discharge Oyston’s debt. A statement from Mr Belokon’s lawyers read: ‘(This is) a ground-breaking application in the football industry, with the judge confirming that it was in the interests of justice for the appointment to be made. It potentially marks a watershed moment for Blackpool Football Club and its loyal fan base. Mr Belokon expresses his hope that this will herald a new chapter in the proud history of a prestigious club.’
The judge, showing due concern for the welfare of the football club in this dispute, wanted to ensure that club, stadium, training ground and hotel would be treated by the receiver as a single entity; he also recognised the considerable impact of the sustained not-a-penny-more boycott in putting a stranglehold on Oyston’s revenue-stream and consequently the importance of the fans to the future financial viability of the club. Assured that the receivers would seek to manage the assets as a single package and that they would work in conjunction with Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, Marcus Smith determined to accept the proposal to appoint David Rubin and Partners as receivers (which was merely implementing a solution he had originally offered way back in 2017).
BST understands that, subject to ratification by both legal teams, the receivership is implemented with immediate effect and subsequent events could be fast-moving – including the removal of the current board and the appointment of an interim management team in the boardroom while the sale of the club is negotiated. In the short term, this should not impact Terry McPhillips or his playing staff. In addition, Valeri Belokon has indicated he will help fund day-to-day running in the interim if required.
Paul Cooper and David Rubin (of David Rubin and Partners) are the men given the task of enforcing the November 2017 judgement via the sale of these football-club related assets. Between them they have considerable experience of clubs in administration, after performing similar roles at Barnet, Coventry, Crystal Palace, Millwall and Portsmouth. Mr Cooper stated: ‘David Rubin and Partners are only too aware of the history of Blackpool Football Club, the central part the club plays in the community and the emotions involved for those supporters dedicated to securing its future. This has obviously been an unsettling period in the club's history. But in this time of uncertainty, the joint receivers will be doing everything in their power to keep the fans informed of relevant developments.’
Joint Statement From BST/TKs/MSG on Friday:
Following further discussions with the Court Appointed Receiver (CAR), it is now clear that control of Blackpool FC has not yet been transferred to the CAR and it is not yet known when this will happen. The legal process regarding the order made by the Court is not yet complete and therefore it is necessary for Blackpool fans who are concerned about when to break the boycott to remain patient for a little while longer.
It is possible that the CAR will take control of the club at some point next week but exactly when is impossible to say at this stage and therefore any tickets purchased for the next home game against Oxford on 23rd February cannot be guaranteed to be NAPM compliant.
The basic conditions required for a return to Bloomfield Rd for most boycotting fans are:
1. A guarantee that ticket revenues will not end up in Oyston hands
2. A new board in place with no Oyston control
At this moment these conditions have not been met.
It is also necessary for supporters to understand that if Owen Oyston is able to pay the full debt owed to Valeri Belokon before the football club is sold, the debt is discharged and he will be able to resume control. Whilst this is a highly unlikely scenario, given that he has had 15 months to do this and is being charged interest at a rate of £5000 per day for every day the debt is outstanding, nevertheless it is important for supporters to know that this remains a risk.
A further issue is the possibility that once the club and other assets are sold and the debt discharged, Valeri Belokon’s shares could revert to Owen Oyston, leaving him with a 20% share in the club. Again, this is unlikely to happen but is a possibility.
With these points in mind Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, the Tangerine Knights and the Muckers Supporters’ Group offer the following advice:
As soon as we know that the CAR has complete control of the football club, we suggest that supporters return to Bloomfield Rd on a game by game basis. In the unlikely event of any future Oyston involvement, the boycott can resume. It is important that we make it clear that we are only returning when the basic conditions are met and if this changes for any reason, the Not A Penny More campaign will continue.
We know that this is disappointing as we all want to get back to our home ground as soon as possible. Having waited for so long, it would make no sense to break NAPM for the sake of a few more weeks. It is likely that the home game against Southend on 9th March can be the target game for the return of the fans and plans for this will be put in place as soon as we have assurances that the CAR has assumed control of the football club.
The next BST Open Members’ Meeting is on Saturday 23rd February at the Village Hotel, Blackpool starting at 11am. It will be attended by Paul Cooper who will be able to offer further clarity about the role of the CAR. In addition, the BST committee will be able to give more detail about the court proceedings that took place on Wednesday. This meeting is open to ALL .
Fans’ representatives are holding a preliminary meeting with the CAR on Monday and have identified a range of issues to discuss with him, having already provided him with a written brief before the court hearing on Wednesday. We will provide updates to supporters on a regular basis, whenever we have them.
Given the euphoria surrounding Wednesday’s court decision, it is understandable that people want to rush back immediately. However, legal processes take time and we must allow the court and the CAR time to do their job and make our club Oyston free before we lift the boycott. We have worked too hard for too long to mess this up now.
Court Appointed Receiver To Meet With Fans’ Representatives:
Due to the constantly changing situation, despite what was proposed in the joint statement, Paul Cooper the Court Appointed Receiver will not be able to attend the BST General meeting on Saturday, but the joint CARs have told us that they intend to set up a meeting with representatives from ALL fan groups as soon as it can be arranged.
Important Update Regarding This Saturday’s Match v Oxford United:
Further to our joint statement last Friday (above) we have now had a discussion with the Court Appointed Receiver (CAR) and have asked for clarity with regard to the purchasing of tickets for the upcoming match against Oxford on Saturday 23rd February.
The CAR does not yet have control of the football club. It is hoped that will happen sometime this week. However, gaining financial control will take longer and so it is likely that the CAR will not be in control of monies in time for the game on Saturday.
The decision as to whether or not to go back to Bloomfield Road for this game is of course up to the individual but it is important that those who have been supporting the NAPM campaign are aware that revenue from tickets purchased for the Oxford home game will probably fall under the control of the Oyston family.
The home game on Saturday 9th March against Southend is looking like a more realistic option for a return to Bloomfield Rd. Information will be shared with the supporters as soon as it is available.
If you have purchased a ticket for Saturday in the expectation that Oyston would not benefit, you are entitled to a refund from the club. Its refunds/returns policy states: Unwanted tickets returned 24 hours prior to kick-off of any match will receive a full refund.
Next BST General Meeting – 23rd February 11:00am at The Village Hotel:
Just to confirm that the next BST General Meeting will be held this Saturday 23rd February at the Village Hotel, Heron’s Reach, Blackpool FY3 8LL starting at the earlier time of 11:00 am. It could be regarded as something of a celebration. It’s a big room and there is a full bar so we hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend. The agenda for the meeting is somewhat fluid but will include the following (and possibly also a surprise speaker):
1) Report back on last week’s Court Proceedings
2) Paul Stewart explaining his consortium’s bid for the club
3) The situation regarding the EFL, points deduction and ODT
4) Detailed Q&A following BST’s first meeting with the Receivers
Call For Volunteers On Returning:
BST is setting 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 able to take control of the club.
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 etc. If we could 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 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 issues etc – that will help us to target the help available to the right area.
You will also be able to sign up for this at the members meeting on Saturday 23rd February at the Village Hotel.
Lobbying The EFL:
As well as BST making representation to the EFL, our local MPs have also written suggesting that a points deduction is not desirable or appropriate in this circumstance. The EFL has issued an open letter today stating: “It is not mandatory that the 12 point deduction must be applied but the circumstances of the appointment of the Receiver need to be fully considered and the appropriate decision taken in accordance with the Regulations.”
Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South has sponsored an Early Day Motion (google EDM#2085) in the House of Commons on this issue. So far six other MPs are backing the call (Chris Matheson, Clive Efford, Kate Green, George Howarth, Justin Madders and Ian Mearns). If your MP is not one of these named, please email him/her and ask that they support the motion.
Thank you for your continued support. If you think that we can improve what we do or have comments or questions for the Trust – please contact email@example.com or write to Blackpool Supporters Trust, 16 Falmouth Road, Blackpool FY1 6LH.
The newsletter is a supplement to our website at www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com where you will find regular news updates and information about the Trust, issues concerning the football club and our involvement in community activities.
Our website is: www.blackpoolsupporterstrust.com
Our FB page is: www.facebook.com/blackpoolST
Our Twitter is: @BlackpoolST