Why the Blackpool Rollercoaster shows no sign of slowing down

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Everything is fine!  You heard it here first.  Blackpool have actually won a couple of games this season and a new training ground is in the pipe-line. Crisis? What crisis!?

Blackpool have had the most eventful month of far too many potential candidates during September and last Tuesday night added another twist to the tale – Blackpool won a game. In all fairness, it was not just a scrappy 1-0 win either; like at Scunthorpe in early September, rather a comfortable 2-0 win against an indifferent Chesterfield, where former ‘Pool defender Ian Evatt was given a warm reception back to Bloomfield Road by the crowd. Those who went were pleased with the football they saw and the dominance Blackpool displayed. Therefore, they can hold plenty of confidence for the weekend’s game against another side struggling with inconsistencies; Swindon Town.

Manager Neil McDonald must have given Blackpool’s squad the ‘hair-dryer’ treatment after an abysmal performance at Shrewsbury Town last weekend, a side who hadn’t even picked up a home point prior to their encounter with The Seasiders. However, with Tuesday’s glimmer of hope, has the corner finally been turned? Are things looking up? Of course not. A few swallows don’t make a summer.

What the half-decent performances on an inconsistent basis have proven this year is what a poor division League One is and the surprising gap of quality between the third and second tier of English football. Studying each individual player at Blackpool, they’re not the absolute worst side in the world but I occasionally have to remind myself that this club was playing in the Premier League a little over five years ago, beating the likes of Liverpool home and away. To settle for this is simply unacceptable for a club who are the “envy of the Football League”. That quote will never get old.

The biggest news for Blackpool fans that emerged from September was the announcement that Blackpool Club President Valeri Belekon has filed High Court proceedings against Owen Oyston, possibly resulting in the Oystons selling up should Belekon claim victory in his case. Officially, these proceedings are being taken under the reasoning of ‘unfair prejudice against shareholders’.

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What could be the outcome of this? To begin with, these hearings could go on for a long time so I wouldn’t want to slap a time-scale on them – it’s simply too unpredictable. If Belekon wins through the Court, should he and Mr. Oyston fail to reach an agreement outside of the Court room, the results could mean the Oystons being forced to buy Mr. Belekon’s 20% share of the club or alternatively, the Oystons being forced to sell their overall majority to Belekon for a pre-determined set price.

Belekon and Oyston have declined to speak to all media outlets concerning the case. One question that has been posed by such circumstances is whether Belekon is using the case as part of an eventual take-over; potentially with BST involved, or if he is simply attempting to claim his money back. The worst outcome could be that the Oystons are given nothing more than a proverbial slap on the wrist and a telling off.  In effect, it would be a day lost for Blackpool Football Club and its fans as a whole.

Earlier this week, Blackpool announced plans for a new training ground as they submitted planning application to Fylde council last week. Sounds like a step in the right direction, right? For me, it has to be seen to be believed. On January 23rd 2003, the Blackpool Gazette reported that ‘Pool planned to build a new £2 million “state-of-the-art” training ground on Preston New Road near Marton. The plan was to then sell Squires Gate for development yet it never came to fruition. 12 years on and ‘Pool still train at ‘facilities’ that even some pub teams would turn their nose up at.

Scepticism isn’t the word concerning the aura around Blackpool right now. Many would claim the announcement is all just smoke and mirrors and who can blame them? Many promises have not been met by the current custodians and there is little reason to buy into a renewed promise, having already proven through past actions that they couldn’t care less about the playing side of the football club.

Unbelievably, yet sadly, it will still require more than just the training ground to make amends for the last half a decade and beyond of utter incompetence. I believe I speak on behalf of Blackpool fans when I say an apology is warranted for those who have immorally been on the end of court cases. Furthermore, a visible and substantial investment into the playing squad is certainly required so the club can aim to reach the second tier once again. Don’t hold your breath though.

Off the pitch, Blackpool Supporters Trust published a column in the Blackpool Gazette on Friday claiming they aren’t just about protests. Before the Tangerine Knights bore any fruit, BST were seen as; and still are, a beacon of hope amid these dark days at Blackpool. Recently however, the Trust have taken a subtle step back and play a role that is less hands-on in terms of protests and are now more involved with the local community, keeping in regular touch with local MPs and sponsoring local football clubs.

Recent individual actions taken by the Trust have also included the sponsorship for the restoration of the Blackpool FC tram which remains stationed at the Pleasure Beach for all to see and donations have been made to the Gary Taylor-Fletcher/Stephen Crainey football academy. Reaching out to the people of the Fylde Coast and getting them onside through positive and constructive actions will only further benefit the Trust’s cause and a huge congratulations is deserved by those working hard behind the scenes.

In further positive news, two former ‘Pool players of the Premier League era are returning to the Fylde Coast to set up a new football academy to develop local stars. Gary Taylor Fletcher and Stephen Crainey have been given a hero’s welcome for their new project which has attracted plenty of positive vibes. Last weekend, the pair; among other familiar faces, hosted a charity event at Fylde Rugby Club in aid of two charities close to their hearts; Brian House and the Gary Parkinson Trust. We wish them the very best of luck on their academy and offer a huge token of gratitude for offering some positive news in an otherwise depressing debacle!

Featured Image: All rights reserved by John Mooney

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