clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

View From The Town End: Blackpool FC

With Reading visiting Bloomfield Road tonight, we talk to Blackpool fan Chris Walker about his team's slide from the Premier League to League One in 4 years.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images
How would you sum up Blackpool's season so far?

Predictably awful. If a team was deliberately trying to get relegated they'd have struggled to do a better job of it than we have. It's been a complete shambles for a couple of years now and we were fortunate to avoid the drop last year. Despite that near miss, we just ended up repeating the same mistakes of last-minute signings and poor preparation. Ultimately we've got what we deserved and perhaps the only surprising thing is that we've managed to get as many as 24 points. To be relegated in early April is a damning indictment of our club's leadership and their total incompetence.

The situation with the club's owners seems to get uglier and uglier, is there any end in sight to the chaos?

Not really, no. The Oyston family are the majority owners of both the football club and the land it sits on, and unless they want to sell, nobody can force them into doing anything. The trust between owners and fans has completely broken down and the only way some fans will come back is once the Oystons have left. Financially, the club is obviously a lot less appealing from next year once the parachute payments have dried up and the lower income you get outside of the top two divisions, but even if the owners do want to sell, the question is at what price, and if anyone would be willing to pay up considering the mess you would be inheriting. A change of ownership feels like wishful thinking unfortunately.

Do you think relegation could help stabilise things or is this negative spiral that's only going to get worse?

The fear is that things are only going to get worse. There is a feeling of relief that relegation has finally been confirmed, but whereas any normal club would then use this period to build for next season and get a headstart on the competition, I can well imagine a scenario where we're scrabbling around for players once more in August. Lee Clark seems to think he's been given assurances that things will be different this time around, but little does he realise that the fans have heard this rhetoric too many times to believe a word that comes out of the club.

When you take into account the lack of structure at the club combined with the financial fair play constraints we'll face next season, you'd have to think we'll be in a relegation battle once again. Teams in League One can only spend 60% of their turnover on wages, and turnover is going to be massively reduced next season with plenty of fans turning their backs on the club. It means we'll likely have one of the lowest wage bills in the league, and many fear we will follow Stockport County's descent down the leagues.

Your pitch has never won rave reviews, how's it holding up?

Well, as we've moved into spring with slightly better weather it's probably stopped getting worse, but it's still a real mess. The ball bobbles around all over the show and the warm-ups alone see the pitch completely cut-up before the game even starts most weeks. It wasn't relaid last summer and the hosting of a Rod Stewart concert at the end of June which saw the pitch covered up probably didn't help. Again, failing to learn from its mistakes the club has scheduled two non-football events this summer including a two-day rugby league event at the end of May and a Neil Diamond concert in July. It's hard to think the remedial work needed on the pitch can be carried out in the small window in between so it could be even worse next season, which doesn't bear thinking about.

Reading comfortably won the game between the sides 3-0 at the Madejski back in October. What did you make of Reading that day and from what you've seen/read since.

I couldn't make it that day, but based on the comments at the time, it was one of the few occasions under Jose Riga where we didn't at least compete. Most of the time Riga kept us involved in games, even if we won very few. That was his final game however, with off-field tension between him and Oyston probably being just as much to blame as the results. Lee Clark has come in and barely done any better yet seems secure, with the obvious difference being that Clark has very much dodged the ownership issues and been careful not to speak out unlike his predecessor.

As for Reading, you seem to have gone under my radar for most of the season. Aside from your cup run, I've barely even noticed the Royals this season and it seems like it's been an uninspiring campaign to say the least. I thought Steve Clarke was hard done to when he got sacked by West Brom, but he doesn't seem to have set the world alight since taking over at the Madjeski and were it not for three terrible teams at the bottom, you might even be getting a bit nervous in the final weeks of the season. It looks like a big re-building job is required this summer.

Any Blackpool player we should be wary of?

The results haven't backed it up with no wins in the last 12, but we do finally seem to have stumbled on a team that does include a few handy players. Michael Jacobs, on loan from Wolves, scored a cracker at Bolton on Saturday, and Gary Madine, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, is a goal threat too. In midfield Jamie O'Hara hasn't looked fully fit all season but does have the quality to play at this level which the rest of our squad sorely lacks. In recent weeks we've also seen our big summer signing Jose Miguel Cubero, who played for Costa Rica in last year's World Cup, come into the starting line up and impress. Injuries aside, quite why he's barely been involved when fit is a mystery, but our results would surely have been better if he hadn't been excluded for so long.

Any Reading player you're not looking forward to facing?

Defensively we're very weak, so I'm worried about what Pavel Pogrebnyak might do to us if he's in the mood. Hal Robson-Kanu generally causes us problems too so I'd expect him to enjoy some success as well.

Score prediction?

It might be the case that now the pressure is off and we're officially down that we start to spring a few surprise results, but I'm not convinced. We do have the advantage of being used to the playing surface, but we just don't keep clean sheets so you're bound to score at some point I imagine. I'll go for a 2-1 Reading win.

Finally, any advice for Reading fans making the trip?

It's a shame the game was moved back to the Tuesday, because I'm sure many Royals had their eyes on Easter weekend in Blackpool when the fixtures came out. In terms of advice, I'd just say to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Golden Mile while you can, because unless you contrive to get yourselves relegated, it could be a long time before our two sides meet again. The last time we were relegated to the third tier it took 29 years for us to get back into the Championship. My fear this time is that it could take even longer unless the owners decide to move on.

Thanks again to Chris and you can follow him on Twitter @onedavebamber