How many for the big return?
By Editor
Sunday 24 Feb 2019 20:41:00
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One of the most exciting things about the appointment of Paul Cooper and the removal of the Oyston family is the return to football normality. The anticipation of the fixtures, the excitement of Transfer Deadline Day, the prospect of promotion - all those things that for the last five years has been anything but the norm. Another big thing will be a return to predicting exactly what Blackpool's fanbase is and how many will actually be in Bloomfield Road on a regular basis. That starts with predictions for the big return against Southend. Of course, that day will be a celebration of the fans return and a tribute to all those who have sacrificed their football in protest at the owners. The figure that day will undoubtedly exceed the average that Blackpool can expect in League One with many speculating on a five figure attendance. Once the initial excitement is over though, just how many fans can we expect at Bloomfield Road?

In the last 40 seasons, the Seasiders have spent 24 of them in the old Division Three, now League One. Attendances over those years have varied due to league form, capacity, the state of the ground and the team fans have been watching. For instance in 1988, an average of just 4,047 bothered to watch Blackpool as the club lurched from one crisis to the next (eventually the biggest crisis being the arrival of the Oyston family). However, more recently an average of 6,877 supporters saw Simon Grayson's side promoted back to the Championship (in 2016, when the majority of fans were on the second season of a two year deal, the average was a disproportionately high 7,052). The season after the new stands opened, Blackpool's average was 6,991 but the novelty soon dwindled and just four years later was down to 5,820. It proves that fans like play off pushes, something new and a bit of ambition, but some soon walk away once it becomes mundane and routine.


The rest of this season will be interesting. Without an owner in place, there won't really be anything for fans to judge. The ironic thing is that some supporters have dubbed this side OFC (Oyston Football Club) and for the remainder of the season it effectively is the team that was put together under Oyston's regime. Terry McPhillips probably has the safest job in football whilst the receiver is in place although many of the players will know they are playing for a future at the club. The fixtures fall nicely for returning fans with the big comeback game against Southend, a couple of big games against Doncaster and Peterborough and the local Derby against Fleetwood. If ever there was a time to get a six game season ticket out, it would be now. If that happened then with big turn outs from Rovers, Posh and the Cods, you could well see an average of around 8,000-10,000 fans inside the ground - the trick then would be turning those in to season ticket holders for next season.


Aside from promotion, new owners and some dramatic signings, there aren't many clubs who will get the chance that Blackpool now have. The prospect of returning after a 5 year break should result in a huge boost to attendances. Whether those fans remain after the excitement has died down will be the new owners first challenge.


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