Blackpool hierarchy discuss club sale rumours, summer signings, training ground and East Stand at fan meeting

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Rumors have been circulating online among supporters in recent weeks that Sadler is considering a sale.

However, in a Structured Dialogue meeting with supporters on Tuesday night, that speculation was firmly put to bed.

Also among the series of questions for General Manager Ben Mansford (BM) and Manager Brett Gerrity (BG) was; the club’s disappointing summer recruiting; the latest plans for Blackpool training grounds; and the longer term goal of building a new stand is, and much more.

Summer Recruitment

BM: Regarding the transfer window this summer, the club did not expect to lose our head coach two weeks before the start of the pre-season, and then we have to go through a thorough recruitment process to find the best replacement. This person must then acquire an understanding of the group. There were one or two positions where we would have liked to sign players on a permanent basis, but there were no viable solutions so we had to resort to the loan market. In the summer of 2020 Simon and the club invested in a number of permanent signings when many clubs at the time weren’t due to the impact of COVID, and again last summer, the club was competitive in the free transfer market with the likes of Shayne Lavery and Dan Grimshaw. For various reasons the club have had to resort to the loan market this summer and I believe that if we cannot find a permanent solution we need to ensure that we get the best possible value through the use of the loan. market. Continuing to build strong relationships with the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal is also vital for that.

Managing director Ben Mansford (left) and Brett Gerrity (centre) pictured with owner Simon Sadler during the recent game against Sunderland

BG: There was absolutely nothing more anyone at this football club could have done in terms of signing players over the summer and some deals didn’t happen due to circumstances beyond their control of Blackpool Football Club.

BM: Our recruiting model is designed to maintain and strengthen our champion status. This is extremely important and our policy worked last season and will knock on wood, it will also this season. There has been a lot of investment from Simon in recruitment to enable our Head of Football Operations, John Stephenson, to build his squad with a clear focus on the data side of things. Over the summer there were a couple of high-profile names that got a lot of attention on social media when they ultimately didn’t join us for different reasons, but I think we saw Saturday against Watford that we now have a group that really cares and want to be here for the right reasons. Ultimately, we have a thorough medical process for players when they join and we want them to be able to play consistently because this football club demands attitude and commitment.

Plans for the January transfer window

BM: We strive to improve with each transfer window. In most summer windows over the past three years, I think we’ve done that. We added quality and evolved. January is always a tough window to do business as clubs will inherently overpay for something that will only bring you marginal gain. We will be looking to get back there in the New Year, but we hope to have a number of players back from injury after the World Cup to push the current squad as much as possible.

Update on the new training ground

BM: A lot of work continues to be done on the training ground. We had our pre-application meeting with the councils of Blackpool and Wyre. We have also completed our public consultation period and are now moving to the next stage of the process where we are ready to submit our substantive development application. Blackpool and Wyre councils, the four MPs involved and local councilors have all been very supportive during this process and a lot of work and expense from the club and Simon has gotten us to this stage. I wouldn’t want to set a deadline on this just yet, but progress continues to be made.

East Stand Plans

BM: Regarding the development of Revoe/East Stand, there will probably be two planning applications. The first will be the sports village, which will hopefully now have support from the Football Foundation and involve the Community Trust. This will include a full-size artificial turf pitch at the back of the North Stand, so it will sit on part of the car park and part of the Foxhill Village Phase Four site. There will then be two 5-a-side football pitches with changing rooms and a café. The next part will be the development of the East Stand. It will more than likely be for the Community Trust and all of its initiatives.

BG: The sports village will serve more of a community purpose, while the training ground will be an elite training center for the first team and the academy.

BM: In terms of timelines, we’re looking at weeks for the sports village planning request to come in. With the East Stand, the planning application for this will hopefully be ready by the first half of 2023.

Is Simon Sadler looking to sell?

BM: Everyone here tonight has listened to all the areas that the football club and Simon continue to invest in – the hospitality lounges, the training ground, the sports village at the back of the north stand, staff, community initiatives – I think that answers the question. From day one Simon said he was Blackpool Football Club’s goalkeeper for several decades, and we are all involved in bringing this football club to the level we all want it to be. Simon isn’t one of those owners who doesn’t come to games – he attends almost every home and away game. We cannot say more clearly that his interest in Blackpool Football Club is unwavering.

Low ticket allocation for the Preston derby

BM: We think it’s fair that Preston have the south side of the East Stand, which is 14 per cent of the stadium’s capacity. Last season Preston gave our supporters half their Kop Stand which was 10% of Deepdale’s capacity including segregation and they informed us they would do it again for the April game. Despite this, we stuck with the 14 per cent offer to Preston this season for our home game after discussing it with the police, and we are now on sale to our supporters on the north side of the East Stand, as it’s is only right, we sell tickets at home when the demand is there.

Support for women’s football

BM: As it stands, Blackpool FC Women and Girls is an autonomous, grassroots, committee-run organization that has received support from the football club in the past with a kit, for example. This arrangement has been very smooth and we have maintained this support. Their committee then came to us and the Community Trust, and we all agreed that we needed to work more closely together. The club and Community Trust funded a full-time Women’s and Women’s Football Development Officer who was appointed a few months ago and we are working to undertake a journey with them.

BG: We want to try to bring the women’s football team under the umbrella of the Trust. Women’s football is growing so fast, and we want to travel with them to help the women’s team grow as much as possible. Our Tangerine Team Mates initiative also pairs our first-team players with grassroots clubs from across the Fylde Coast, many of which are all-girls teams, which is fantastic to see.

BM: Many clubs are advancing women’s football through their Community Trust, as it allows better access to funding. The other thing the club and Community Trust have been successful with is that we are now one of 50 centers to be classified as an emerging talent center for young girls in this field. This will see the Blackpool FC Community Trust Emerging Talent Center play against other football clubs who have also achieved this status. This will hopefully help further progress even further.

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