“It will absolutely change the club forever if we go up. It can’t fail to”
— Karl Oyston talks to the Gazette on June 15 2010, nine days before Pool win promotion to the Premier League.
On a searing hot day at the home of English football, Blackpool FC achieved the impossible in earning promotion to the Premier League with a 3-2 victory over Cardiff City. I was there that day and there were many who were so drained physically and emotionally, that they literally couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was a truly glorious moment to be a Blackpool fan and they quite rightly sang about it being the best trip they’ve ever been on. How times can change…..
Fast forward to Saturday 19th July 2014 and Blackpool have just played their first preseason friendly match, having cancelled a tour to Spain due to insufficient squad numbers. This is the starting lineup:
Blackpool’s current plight has been well documented on social media, with support flooding in from supporters around the country for the beleaguered Seasiders. This is a team that earned many admirers during their season in the Premier League due to their incredible attacking spirit and ability to entertain. They almost pulled of an even bigger shock as they were only relegated on the last day of the season, also the only time they were in the bottom three all season. This was all despite the likes of Alan Hansen tipping them to only get 10 points.
So where did it all go wrong? The villain of the piece appears to be club owner Karl Oyston, who many Blackpool fans will tell you is notoriously tightfisted. Blackpool achieved their recent success in spite of his actions, but now the ugly side of Oyston’s ownership is starting to rear it’s head. Fans will talk of the missing £90m of which little, if any was reinvested back into the club. A promised new training ground has yet to materialise and the temporary stand required to fit Premier League regulations is more permanent than ever.
“Blackpool are the only team I can remember actually, who won that lottery (Promotion to the Premier League) and said you know what? We’re not giving our manager a rise, we’re not putting the wages up, we’ll just trouser the money and go back down.”
— Former Liverpool MD Christian Purslow discussing newly promoted clubs on 5 Live – 2nd September 2013
“If you look at it, all that is different now from when I arrived are some sprinklers for the pitch”
— Ian Holloway talks to the Blackpool Gazette, April 1st 2013.
Blackpool fans have grown used to broken promises, but their dramatic nosedive during last season meant closer scrutiny of the owner’s actions and it continues to go downhill. Today the club has just 8 professionals, no goalkeeper, no reserve team and a new manager who is threatening to quit before the season even begins. Their title winning youth team has been completely released, furthering the lack of an actual playing squad.
Many former players have weighed in on Twitter, with much of it directed at Karl Oyston himself. Yet despite all this, Blackpool supporters remain loyal to the club, with a reported 8000 season tickets sold(approx 50% of stadium capacity). I was present at all of the games last season, where frustration often turned into threatening violence, it was a truly toxic atmosphere and I don’t want to experience that again. Unless a massive change happens, I’m afraid Blackpool are going to be in the news again for all the wrong reasons.
“I look back at what we achieved at Blackpool and wonder if there’s a legacy. Has it been built on? At the moment I look back and there isn’t one.”
— Former ‘Pool man Gary Taylor-Fletcher talks to the Gazette on the 25th September, 2013.