Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST) – a fan group who have launched a £16million deal to take over Blackpool Football Club – have revealed they were ‘inspired’ to bid by fan-owned FC United of Manchester.
BST are opposed to the regime under the current owners, the Oyston family, who are said to have caused ‘chaos and confusion’ and left the club in ‘shambles’.
Blackpool were a Premier League club only four years ago, but last season saw the club relegated to League One after finishing bottom of the table with a record-low 26 points from 46 league matches.
MM spoke exclusively with Steve Rowland and Kevin Boroduwicz, who are chairman and secretary of BST respectively, about their proposal to take over at Bloomfield Road.
“I think that it would mean everything. It would as much to us as it would to the supporters of FC United of Manchester,” Mr Boroduwicz said.
“They are one of our inspirations and one of our partners in terms of the work that we have been doing.
“They helped us when we were set up as a trust, giving us advice and support. They were in touch with us today in fact to offer us assistance if we need any [with the bid].”
Chairman Mr Rowland explained that the circumstances wouldn’t be exactly the same, but the club would be run under a similar premise.
“We don’t want to set up an alternative to Blackpool FC in the way that FC United of Manchester have. We want our own club back,” he said.
Happy 1st birthday to Blackpool Supporters Trust! What a momentous year. Looking forward to the next one 🙂
— Steve Rowland (@TangerineRising) June 26, 2015
Blackpool FC is owned by Owen Oyston, whilst his son, Karl, is the current chairman.
The pair have failed to create harmony between themselves and supporters, with many disagreeing with the manner in which the club has been run on a shoestring budget despite receiving a £90million windwall following their solitary season in the top flight.
The final game of Blackpool’s 2014/15 season against Huddersfield Town hit the headlines after it was abandoned following a pitch invasion by home supporters in protest of the Oystons – with the club already confirmed relegation from the Championship weeks earlier.
Karl Oyston particularly has been the subject of intense media scrutiny, and is today starting a six-week ban imposed by the FA after five charges of misconduct due to inappropriate text messages that he sent to supporters of the club, including one where he labelled a fan a ‘retard’.
He also recently sued a 67-year-old supporter for £20,000 following alleged defamatory comments made on a private Facebook page, along with being accused of brandishing a gun at a supporter outside Bloomfield Road.
Mr Boroduwicz explained that relations between supporters and the Oystons had hit an all-time low.
“We’ve been attempting to communicate with the club for almost two and a half years. The response from the club has been abysmal,” he said.
“They have used every possible means to deflect our enquiries, to ignore them and basically to continue to do what they do without regard to the supporters of the club.
“They have treated the supporters of the club generally with contempt. The atmosphere amongst the fans has been poor for at least two years.
“Our concern is that the owners have in fact goaded the fans continually and caused them to be upset. They’ve contributed whole-heartedly to the terrible match day experience at Bloomfield Road.”
The poor organisation of the club by the Oystons has seen many of the Seasiders’ fans become disillusioned with their team, many losing interest in their team’s football completely.
“[After being relegated from the Premier League] it has become a worse and worse experience for us, to the point where many of us simply don’t care about the results,” Mr Boroduwicz said.
The fans are not just the heart and soul of Blackpool FC, we are its bricks and mortar too #FootballFirst
— Kevin Boroduwicz (@koovani) July 8, 2015
“We no longer have that relationship with the club that actually causes you to be a football fan; that has been taken away from us. That is much, much worse than any relegation or any loss of a football game.
“To specifically attempt to not invest in the club, to attack and antagonise supporters, to treat them with contempt and to act with a disregard to the whole ethos of the club is something that fans simply won’t stand for.”
Both men agreed on the idea that BST would be more democratic with supporters and run the club effectively, something which they believe has not been achieved under the ownership at present.
Mr Rowland said: “We certainly appear to care more for the future of Blackpool as a footballing entity than the current owners.
“I’m not saying that we’ve got all the skills to do it ourselves. If we were successful in this bid and we got given the club to run, we would engage proper professional people all the way through the organisation to do the job properly.
“Our perception is that the current owners have not been doing that over the last few years.
“We are not interested [in the commercial side of football]. What we are interested in is the football club and the effect that it has on people’s lives, the contribution that it makes to the community, the way that it allows people to identify with the place that they are from or the place that they associate themselves with.”
Image courtesy of SRF via YouTube, with thanks.