It has been nearly six weeks since my last blog, yet Blackpool Football Club remain in dire straits.
Neil McDonald came in as the club’s new manager, and admitted he has a huge job on his hands. The former West Ham assistant manager must have wondered what he’d got himself into when, for the second summer running, the club started pre-season training with only a handful of players.
And it only got worse for the new man when Pool’s first pre-season friendly against Lancaster City was abandoned after fans ran onto the pitch.
Unlike the Huddersfield Town abandonment, many supporters have failed to see the logic behind abandoning a pre-season friendly. We received a lot of praise after the Huddersfield match, but if you aim to abandon games against Non-League opposition you risk losing those who are ‘on our side’.
Ruining Lancaster’s day seemed rather pointless. The Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST) had to make it clear that the abandonment had nothing to do with them. It was the actions of a minority, and after last summer’s lack of pre-season (Pool played only two friendlies last year) getting fixtures called off seems a strange move.
The BST have also made a £16m takeover bid to buy the club from the Oyston family. With chairman Karl banned from all footballing activities for six weeks, it looks likely that the bid will be rejected.
However, the Oyston family should not just laugh it off, it should be taken seriously because it is actually a very good offer. It would leave the Oystons with the hotel and land, while the BST will take charge of the footballing side of things such as player recruitment and training facilities.
Now is a great time for the Oystons to take the money and leave before the club is crushed even more. It won’t be making profit at the level it has done for the last couple of seasons, so why not let the BST run the footballing side of things?
There are still a lot of questions that need answering at Blackpool. For example, what is the latest on Andrea Orlandi and Jose Cubero? Will Nile Ranger ever return? What has happened to Dom Telford and Mark Waddington?
Unfortunately the man who would normally be asking such questions, The Gazette’s Will Watt, is unable to do so after being told the club will only deal with ‘local media partners’. Banning the local newspaper is a very poor decision, because it highlights the importance of journalism.
If you were to go onto the official club website after the Lancaster game, you could read a match report describing how well Pool played in a 3-1 win. On their YouTube channel you could watch back all the goals, and listen to McDonald’s post-match interview describing how pleased he was with the performance.
The abandonment was not mentioned anywhere on the club’s website; it’s almost as if it never happened. How they expected to get away with it is beyond me, Pool’s new media output is highly selective and a clear example of one-sided propaganda.
This week, McDonald and his squad travel to Scotland for training where they will also play a couple of friendlies. The trip was aimed to take place once McDonald had the bulk of his squad assembled, but with only 17 players signed up it leaves Pool once again very short with the new season quickly approaching.
The squad’s average age is just 22, and the majority of the players have never played at League 1 level before. I don’t have a problem with recruiting younger players and taking a chance on them, but the best environment for them to thrive and develop their game in is if they are mixed in with more senior and experience professionals, who know their way around the tough division that League 1 is.
Being a Blackpool fan at the moment is tough. I used to be so excited in the summer, constantly reading transfer gossip and checking the website to see who our latest signings would be and when our next friendly is. But nowadays I don’t even know half our playing squad. And when we beat Blyth Spartans 2-0 in our second (but first which was completed) pre-season fixture, I wasn’t even aware we were playing until I picked up The Gazette the following day.
It’s got to the point now where people have simply given up. They just aren’t bothered anymore, and that is a terrible situation for any football fan to be in.