Tag Archives: Blackpool FC

Commitment

I don’t think that hating other football clubs is a good way to show commitment to your own club. I’ll be at the game on Sunday, hoping desperately that Birmingham beat the Villa but once the game is over, I’ll calm down. I’ll remember that if my dad had been born three miles further north, I’d probably be a Villa fan myself.  

Most Blues and Villa fans have some connection with Birmingham and the two groups have much in common. Fans from both sides agree on many issues such as the Justice for the 21 campaign. The view that Villa are more middle class and Blues more working class is an opinion not a fact.  A thesis on the rivalry between the fans of Aston Villa and Birmingham City Football Clubs stated that: “the fan groups were actually relatively homogenous in terms of their demographics and their location”.   

This week, Blackpool fans have shown their commitment in a positive way, by cleaning up their stadium following the neglect of the Oyston ownership. Birmingham fans have helped in a similar way in the past. I can remember a game against WBA on December 28, 1993, when it had snowed before the game and the club asked fans to come early and help clear the snow so that the game could go ahead. 

Not every fan can get to games; some are prevented by distance, infirmity or other reasons. I hope that those of us who can be there will limit our aggression to non-contact competitions such as who can shout and sing the loudest. I would like both the Blues fans and the police to go home with smiles on their faces.

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Inadequate owners

Fan explaining Blackpool situation

Blackpool fans are rejoicing because their club has been put into receivership and that means the era of Oyston ownership is over. Blackpool’s game against Southend next Saturday will be the first home game since this happened and the Guardian reports that:

“Supporters are planning a party, starting with a celebration march from the promenade, and perhaps in some small way it can be a reminder for every other club that has inadequate or reviled owners, that things can change for the better, that it won’t always be one crisis after another, and that one of the reasons why this sport pulls us in, why it is so damn addictive, is that the bad times always make the good ones seem so much better.”

The same article includes accounts of other owners who have endangered the futures of their football clubs. Charlton’s owner has suggested that the Football League buy the club.  There are reports of Bolton not paying staff and players. Notts County is at the bottom of League 2 and HMRC has issued a winding-up petition against it. If Coventry City can’t find a place to play next season it could be expelled from the league.

Not all owners are inadequate or bad but there have been enough problems to suggest that the system needs changing.  There needs to be a better way of ensuring that people who buy football clubs are fit and proper and also know something about the football business. When problems occur there needs to be a way of sorting them out quicker.

Blackpool is one example of how long it can take to get rid of a problem owner.  Owen Oyston bought the club in 1988. His wife and then his son took over after he was convicted of rape in 1996. Valeri Belokon bought a 20 per cent stake in 2006 and became chairman. Owen and Karl Oyston began suing fans who criticised their ownership on internet forums. Five managers came and went in the space of two years and 27 players left before the start of the 2014-15 season. In 2016 some fans started to boycott games and pledged never to return until the Oystons had left. Valeri Belokon instigated court proceedings against the Oystons. On November 6, 2017 the Oystons were defeated in the High Court and ordered to buy out Valeri Belokon’s shares for £31.27m after it was found they had “illegitimately stripped” the club. You can read the timeline  yourself if you want all the gory details.

As a Birmingham City supporter, I know what it feels like to have an owner convicted of money laundering. I can sympathise with other fans whose clubs have inadequate owners. That is why I believe that there needs to be an independent regulator for English football. Let the English Football League concentrate on organising the leagues and let someone else regulate the business of football.

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Fans not numbers

Values are important in football. To quote from an earlier post that I wrote: “I believe that it’s good for managers, players and fans to be grounded in the world outside football, with family, friends and values that keep them from being crushed by what happens on the pitch.”  Continue reading

The value of football

Sometimes football seems very insignificant compared to more important things in life. It seems wrong to care about a game when so many people in the world are struggling just to exist. The news of people adrift on the Mediterranean Sea in flimsy, overcrowded boats makes me question why I spend so much time thinking about Birmingham City.  I rationalise by telling myself that I can’t carry the problems of the whole world.  I do what I can: I give to charities that tackle some of the problems and I vote in elections, trying to select the candidate who will do the most good or the least harm. Continue reading

Thoughts on the weekend

It was bound to happen sooner or later and it happened at Blackpool; Birmingham City lost. It wasn’t good to lose to a team adrift at the foot of the table but I wasn’t particularly worried that we lost to a team managed by Lee Clark. I don’t feel any animosity towards him. If we have to lose, I’d prefer to lose away. Given our abysmal home record last season, the team needs to play well at St Andrew’s in order to keep the home crowd’s support. The away supporters are more forgiving. Continue reading

Keep calm and sing carols

All together IMG_6695-1For 90 plus minutes tomorrow, Blackpool will be our opposition and I won’t be wishing anything good for the team or its supporters. But at other times I have a great deal of sympathy for Blackpool supporters and players; they have had problems with owners too. So I like the idea of Birmingham and Blackpool players posing for a mixed squad photo before the game. This is in honour of Football Remembers Week, commemorating the 1914 Christmas Truce between British and German soldiers. From time to time it’s good to be reminded that football can bring people together as well as cause arguments. Continue reading