As we move into the fourth month of the football year and the sixth month of Simon Sadler’s ownership, it is pleasing to be able to say that on the field, the team is now putting together a string of positive results. Four games without defeat is always welcome, and two home wins in four days gives everyone a lift. This is especially so when you consider the breathlessly exciting way the team prevailed over The Posh last Saturday. Whilst some of the football in recent weeks has been hard fought, uninspiring fare, this was a tantalising glimpse of what the team might be capable of as we go forward. The atmosphere felt like a real team effort between players, club and fans and showed just how effective we the supporters can be as that all important “twelfth man”. We are just a point away from the play-off places as things stand, and whilst it will be important to manage our own expectations, it should also be said that as the National Play Off Kings we have won promotion in the past from far worse situations than this. Quite apart from the excitement that a home FA Cup tie brings this weekend, next Saturday’s home clash with AFC Wimbledon already looks very appetising.
Meanwhile, Wednesday of this week marked two years since the High Court judgment against the Oystons that marked the beginning of the club’s return to respectability and normality. Many people will cherish their memories of the day itself; most will remember the shameful lack of a response from the EFL, that continues to this day. Indeed, we felt obliged to mark the first anniversary of that judgement with a vigil outside the ground at which fans held up pages of Marcus Smith’s damning judgement on the way our club had been mismanaged. One year on from that, it is hugely pleasing that no such demonstrations were needed this time. Instead, we have a great deal to look forward to under Simon Sadler’s stewardship.
All that said, we had to rely upon a determined minority owner and an enlightened Judge to help us get the justice we sought, and two years on, this week saw Parliament finally shine a spotlight on the inadequacies of the football authorities in England, and the EFL in particular. The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) published their findings on the recent handling of events at Bolton and Bury.
DCMS pulled no punches. Select Committee Chair Damian Collins was trenchant in his criticisms of the EFL, upon the basis of the “compelling evidence” that his Committee had heard. Apart from recommending reparations be made to Bury (somewhat late now), he went on to make recommendations for changes to how the game is run, warning the FA, EPL and EFL that if they do not make changes to the way that they operate and take regulation seriously, then the time is fast approaching when responsibility for these matters may be taken away from them and given to others who WILL do what is necessary.
BST was one of the bodies that submitted written evidence to the inquiry, and its findings really reflected and vindicated everything we have been saying for the last three years about the state of football governance.. There is much to do to get it into a fit state; but this week it feels as if the DCMS moved us forward. And it also felt as though - at last - people in positions to force change are actually listening to what we and thousands of other football fans up and down the country are saying. Now the door is ajar, we are determined to make sure that it stays open, and that action flows from Mr. Collins’ welcome words. The work of the fans national body (the Football Supporters Association (FSA)) will be pivotal and it is encouraging that BST has two representatives on the FSA’s National Council.
The upcoming General Election will undoubtedly be dominated by one main issue but nevertheless it is also an opportunity for the subject of football governance to be put on the agenda.
Although BST are still keeping up the campaign for better governance in football we do now look forward to doing what many supporters’ trusts already have done to make great progress at their clubs. There are many ways we can help and support our club and community but this will be reliant on any help and support that is available from you, the Blackpool supporters. If you are not yet a member of BST please do consider giving your support by joining the Trust.
On Saturday 16th November, before the home game against AFC Wimbledon, BST are holding another foodbank collection in aid of Home Start Blackpool, one of our local family support charities. If you are able to donate items such as tinned food, dried pasta, cereals, sauces, tea and coffee etc, or toiletries, BST members will be stationed near to the main entrance of the football club in the West Stand to receive whatever you can spare.
Fans Supporting Foodbanks – thank you in advance.