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Blackpool FC: When Tangerine Dreams Turn Sour

The Boot Room

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Four and a half years ago, 14th August 2010, Blackpool walked out at the DW Stadium newly promoted, and about to face Wigan in their first Premier League fixture. Two hours later, they’d put four past Chris Kirkland and were back on the M6 having started their campaign in style.

The fairytale wasn’t to be, and come the end of the season Blackpool were relegated by a point. Wigan eventually succumbed two years later, but not without a famous FA Cup win in the process.

Fast forward to today and Blackpool are freshly relegated again, this time to League One, while Wigan are manager-less, eight points from safety, and run by a 23-year old chairman.

They are joined by fellow strugglers and sometime Premier League compadres Fulham and Reading towards the foot of the Championship table.

Fulham, once home to Edwin van der Sar, Louis Saha, Dimitar Berbatov and a statue of Michael Jackson, now find themselves 20th with just two wins from their last ten.

Reading, who followed a record-breaking 106 points in the Championship with an 8th-placed finish in their first ever top flight season, yo-yoed before now finding themselves 18th, also with two wins from ten.

It’s a familiar story, not limited to these four clubs – the Icarus flight into the heat of the Premiership. The club builds something, fights, achieves, reaches the crest of the arc, begins to fall, and breaks apart.

Wigan, Reading and Fulham have all changed leadership at board level since their heady days, and this weekend Blackpool fans staged a protest against the ownership of the Oyston family.

They are each at around the same stage in the process, and a look at Leeds or Portsmouth shows where the path can lead. Portsmouth battle to avoid dropping out of league football and Leeds, while they have experienced a degree of stability and been able to begin to rebuild in recent years, still feel like a club held together with parcel tape – one stiff downpour away from coming apart completely.

It may have taken 40 games to materialise, but Blackpool’s fate was surely sealed before the season even started. Just four wins all season so far, an inevitable outcome for a team whose squad, when it assembled for pre-season, contained just eight contracted players – none of whom was a goalkeeper.

Twenty-seven players left Blackpool over the summer, including Tom Ince – a prized possession allowed to leave on a free. It was an impossible situation for first Jose Riga and then Lee Clark, and the supporter protest focussed on the club ownership – amid allegations that corners were being cut and the club run on a shoestring while the owners extracted what money they could. A total of £27.7million has been loaned by the club to its parent company – the reverse of the usual story.

So, is the Premier League to blame for the situations at its former member clubs, chewing them up and spitting them out?

The Championship Play-Off Final is often cited as having the biggest prize in football, a 90 minute showdown which opens the door to the riches of the Premier League – with its TV deal, high sponsorship value and high attendances.

But the fall is hard too, and clubs are wont to overstretch in order to reach the promised land. Parachute payments, intended to soften the landing for relegated clubs, can act to deepen the divide between the haves and the have nots, or further warp the already twisted finances of clubs tied in knots to achieve beyond their place, driven by the aspiration of fans or ego of owners.

One need only look as far as Reading – a club well run by chairman John Madejski for the better part of twenty years, bought by Russian billionaire Anton Zingarevich in January 2012, promoted to the Premier League that May, with that the wage structure changed, parachute payments disappeared into financing debt and tax bills. The club was recently fined £30,000 for the involvement of Vibrac, a finance company based in the British Virgin Islands.

Football clubs, like all other businesses, can be victims of mismanagement, or find themselves falling on hard times. But the environment in which they operate, particularly those who find themselves frequently occupying the no-man’s land between the top and second tier, is more unforgiving than most. It is a large gulf to bridge, requiring a commitment of resources which can stretch clubs to breaking point.

Only the Premier League has a big enough cash float to make this process less traumatic, it owes it to these clubs to share the wealth around.

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West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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