Club haven't used of Premier League money
10 March ~ Blackpool extended their winless run to 18 games at the weekend with a 1-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth, pushing the club ever closer to the relegation zone. Having been fourth at the end of November they are now only six points clear of Yeovil in 22nd. It precipitated the most vocal opposition to the club's ownership heard at Bloomfield Road in years. Strange then to think that it was only three years ago that the Seasiders were lighting up the Premier League and a lot of people are entitled to ask: where has it all gone wrong?
Many will point to Ian Holloway's departure and that is certainly a factor, but a chronic lack of investment since that year in the top flight would appear to be the root cause. Rather than taking advantage of their new-found wealth, the club continue to operate as if they were a lower-league side, fielding teams crammed full of cast-offs, has-beens, loan players and others on short-term contracts. Indeed, as it stands, only five players are definitely on Blackpool's books come the summer, leaving whoever is in charge with another significant rebuild.
Short-termism is the order of the day but chairman Karl Oyston does not appear to see it as a problem. He is on record as stating this transfer strategy provides the club with "flexibility" and that he sees it "as an opportunity". Sadly, it is being exposed as a failing strategy with the club hurtling towards League One. It may be a philosophy that can make for a profitable business, but it is not translating into on-pitch success.
A quick glance at the latest set of accounts only recently released would back up Karl Oyston's claim that Blackpool are "the envy of the Football League" as the club recorded a profit for the third successive year. What would the likes of Leicester, Nottingham Forest and QPR give for that with their significant losses? Closer examination however reveals a tangled web of loans between the club and various companies owned by Owen Oyston, Karl's dad and the majority owner of the club. Many of these companies are loss-making, with the impression being that they are being propped up with the football club's money.
The lack of investment in the club itself, both on the playing budget and off-field legacy projects such as the long-promised new training facilities have engendered considerable ill-feeling towards the board and, relegation or no relegation, fans are set to turn their backs on the club when it comes to season ticket renewals time. A similar situation last year saw the club offer season tickets for a one-off reduced price of £195.30 in order to prevent a mass exodus, but even a repeat of that might struggle to keep the fans coming in. The top-flight adventure of 2010-11 already feels like a lifetime ago. Chris Walker