Blackpool are in freefall, but it doesn’t take an astute follower of English football to come to that conclusion.
The Tangerines are also technically one of the most financially secure clubs in professional football, boasting impressive profits totalling almost £30 million over the past three financial years. Putting their situation into some context: they may have paid off the mortgage on their house, but inside the plastering is poorly done and each year more pieces of furniture are sold to be replaced with lesser alternatives. (Oh and there’s hundreds if not thousands of people protesting outside the house every week).
For much of the 2015-16 campaign it looked as if Blackpool would avoid a second successive relegation, however just one point from their final five league fixtures condemned Neil McDonald’s side to relegation – trading places in League One with Northampton, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers and either AFC Wimbledon or Plymouth.
Five years ago Blackpool had narrowly faced relegation from the top flight having soaked up the abundance of riches the Premier League offers its participants (or rather the Oyston family had soaked up those riches). At the same time Fleetwood Town were in the Conference having faced an 8-1 defeat over two legs in the play-offs to AFC Wimbledon. The fortunes of Blackpool’s near neighbours Fleetwood have been strictly vertical ever since and are now unbelievably set to begin their first ever season above Blackpool in the football pyramid.
The Cod Army of Fleetwood averaged just a few hundred fans 10 years ago but could even see their attendances (now averaging out at around 3,300) surpass that of Blackpool’s home matches at Bloomfield Road next season. That would surely be another significant nail for Blackpool fans to hammer into the coffin of their football club. A team whose fortunes – they could be forgiven for thinking – were set to change following a £100 million injection of Premier League money.
It seems nine months in the spotlight with Ian Holloway, DJ Campbell, Charlie Adam and co. allowed the club’s owners to finally reap the rewards of owning Blackpool Football Club since 1987. Rewards Owen Oyston cared to limit only to himself and the rest of his family.