Opportunity Knocks by BRR2
Tuesday 12 Mar 2019 12:28:00
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If you are of a certain age you will remember a particularly anodyne quiz game of this name hosted by the very creepy Hughie Green. But the phrase seems to sum up where Blackpool FC currently are very well. It was hard to see this coming, especially at the speed it eventually did. And the very suddenness of it is bound to cause some teething problems initially. But at the moment there is a bucketload of goodwill around the club, a small army of people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and muck in, and the club is generating more positive headlines every DAY than it did in the last  four years put together. Long may it continue.


The first big job is to keep that momentum going. I see the Court Appointed Receiver playing a big role in this ; as long as they are doing their job it feels as though we are in safe hands. But we are also in limbo as well. The sooner we have a new owner to engage with, the sooner we can put the immediate past behind us and begin forging a new future. Having Tim Fielding in an advisory role to the interim Board is, to my mind, a very welcome step. Much of our frustration in recent times has stemmed from the impotence of the position we felt ourselves to be in. It is bad enough to be marginalised by your own club’s owners. It is worse when you realise that the footballing authorities, who are supposed to be custodians of the game, are not willing or able to do anything to protect your interests. 


I hope therefore, that whoever we end up being owned by, that the crusade for change at the national level will go on. Too many clubs are failing ; too many sets of supporters are being placed in the same state of helplessness that we have had to endure, and it is simply not acceptable.  We have, through our Supporters Trust, shone a spotlight on people who are not fit to be in positions of influence over the game. The EFL in particular is an Augean stable that needs to be swept clean, and I hope that Christine and her team continue to wield a very big brush for football fans everywhere in England. Someone has to lead - why not us?


The most obvious opportunity lies in being a normal club again - having fans who can care a little less about governance, insolvency events and working out what the hell “force majeure” means, and start worrying about ticket prices, league tables and the price of pies. We saw on Saturday what a powerful, vibrant force we can be ; the latent potential that stems from that could be immense if properly harnessed. And I am pretty sure that if that translates into a surge up the league pyramid we will relish it even more next time around. It is high time we reminded PNE where the true footballing power in our part of Lancashire lies, and high time we put local pretenders back in their place.


The final opportunity lies in diversifying from the politics of protest and putting more effort into  establishing the club at the heart of its community.  God knows, that community faces some profound challenges, and it would be good to place the club at the centre of it again, making it a rallying point, source of pride, community hub and local advocate all rolled into one. It will need some slightly different skills ; but I have long thought that moving football clubs back towards the quasi-social enterprise model that was prevalent in the pioneer clubs formed in the latter half of the 19th century would be (paradoxically, perhaps) a progressive thing. It might not be a fashionable concept yet ; but making life hard for Shaun Harvey wasn’t either, and look how popular that has (rightly) become.


There is lots to do, lots to aspire to. Our Supporters Trust is swapping one huge challenge for another, one that is perhaps a little more nebulous, one where the emphasis is much less on drawing up on battle lines and much more on forging alliances and identifying common purpose. I am confident they will adapt well ; I think we as a collective all have energy and passion to burn which can only help them. We are lucky enough to follow the most extraordinary football club - and at last we can start taking simple pride in that.

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