Blackpool

Off-field squabbles continue to overshadow Blackpool’s on-field success
3rd February 2016

As per usual at Blackpool Football Club; off the field issues have been talked about more than events on the pitch.

Last week; two supporters were jailed and handed football banning orders for their actions on the final day of last season, the infamous Huddersfield Town abandonment.

Now while you obviously cannot condone their actions, it is hugely disappointing to see such punishments handed out. The Oyston family acting like this against its own fanbase has become a regular occurrence in the last 18 months, with the whole issue being such a sorry state of affairs.

This led to Blackpool councillor Tony Williams calling for a truce between the fans and owner. Williams has even wrote a letter to the FA (Football Association) and Sports Minister Tracy Crouch, calling on them to intervene.

A Gazette article then highlighted the impact that Pool’s plight has had on local industries. A number of businesses surrounding the Bloomfield Road area have felt the effects of falling attendances; with the club now only managing an ‘official’ average of just over 6,000 supporters, a far-cry from the gate numbers we received in the Premier League season.

2nd May 2015 - Sky Bet Championship - Blackpool v Huddersfield Town - A disabled fan on a motorised scooter protests on the pitch - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

It may have been almost nine months ago; but last May’s pitch invasion against Huddersfield continues to give Blackpool a bad name.

Despite Neil McDonald’s claims that “after a few wins” fans will be returning to watch the side, people have chosen to maintain their boycott, which will disappoint the manager as his side are doing some very good things at the moment.

Pool are unbeaten in four matches following last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Gillingham, and sit five points clear of the League One relegation zone in 18th.

Victory over fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic this weekend will see that cushion change; but as I have said in previous blogs, it is impossible to tell what this squad is going to do.

All their victories and streaks of good form have come in blocks of games and have not been sustained over a period of time.

This squad is young and raw; but on their given day can produce some real scintillating football, taking Brad Potts’ first goal in the 5-0 win over Scunthorpe United being a fine example.

The transfer window slammed shut on Monday night, and a day that promised very little for Pool delivered as much, with not one player coming in or leaving the club.

McDonald did the majority of his business earlier in the window, and as stated in my previous blog, those who have come in look to be very handy additions.

Danny Philliskirk has hit the ground running straight away. He has managed to instantly form a good partnership upfront with Jack Redshaw, whilst also displaying his flexibility by playing as right-winger against Gillingham, which allowed Mark Cullen to come in and partner Redshaw up top.

The only disappointment of this window will be the failure of Dean Lyness’ move to Bloomfield Road from Burton Albion. Having enjoyed a successful loan spell; the goalkeeper agreed a permanent move, but the deal eventually stalled after Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough claimed Pool “changed their minds at the last minute”.

McDonald had hoped to move on reserve goalie Kyle Letheren before bringing Lyness in permanently but this obviously failed to happen. It leaves Pool in a sticky situation if first-choice Colin Doyle picks up another injury, because Letheren has played very little football and will surely be lacking motivation to play for a manager who clearly doesn’t fancy him.

We all pray that those issues away from the pitch get sorted sooner rather than later, for the sake of our club’s future. All McDonald’s team can do is keep on performing, regardless of whether supporters are watching or not.

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