Fan’s View 23/24 – No.13: Blackpool at home

Article by Paul Beasley Monday, October 23rd, 2023  


Over many decades I’ve got to know so many people through football and made many friends. It’s a common bond. It’s a point of reference. When you start a new job talk soon turns to this beautiful – and at times not so beautiful – game of ours. When you move on, it’s the fans of other teams you are much more likely to remain in touch with.

I’ve got mates who support ex-Football League clubs. On Saturday 14 October I wished them luck in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup. The replies I got from each was thanks and “why aren’t you playing today?” I told them “international call ups” and as I did so it struck me just how big the gap currently is between my club and theirs. I feel their pain, not personally of course, but based on our horrendous Conference experiences at places such as Droylsden, Histon and Lewes. In the last 10-15 years both Southend and Torquay have been above us in the football pyramid but neither made it through to the first round proper.

The Shrimpers sit just below mid table in the National League having had a 10 point deduction for failing to clear an HM Revenue & Customs debt before a deadline imposed by the National League. Their fans wait nervously to see if Ron Martin, the owner who has driven them into the ground, will at last sell the club in late November.

The Gulls are currently in the play-off places in the Conference South.

Now look at where we are, the players we have and the football we’re playing. There was an article by James Gheerbrant in the Times sports section last Saturday headed “How the Pep revolution took over the lower leagues”. He talks of the Guardiola way of more patient possession, more building up from the back and less blood and thunder, kick and rush being very evident in the lower leagues too. We of course have been aware of this for a while. It’s exciting times. Gheerbrandt has recognised this.

“This is, in many ways, a great time for the second, third and fourth tiers and beyond. Attendances are booming. There are some brilliant young coaches doing outstanding work: among them Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna and Plymouth Argyle’s Steven Schumacher, Portsmouth’s John Mousinho and Oxford’s Liam Manning, Leyton Orient’s Richie Wellens and Notts County’s Luke Williams”.

Great times indeed but I suspect there are plenty of supporters of fallen EFL sides who are thinking sod the style if a physical long ball game gets us back in the 92 then go for it.


When we’re without a game I often look at other local fixtures which might have some neutral appeal such as at Oxford City and Brackley. However, whilst we weren’t playing Reading Mrs FV and I opted to pop along to the Holiday Inn at Pear Tree to the exhibition of our potential new ground at the Triangle as members of the project team were present that day.

Mightily impressive it was. All angles seem covered to me. Most people present seemed convinced although there were some who clearly hadn’t bothered to read any of the boards which would have provided answers to their questions/concerns. Their comments were dealt with very patiently and professionally I have to say.

I came away feeling really enthused.


When I heard that Cameron Brannagan was out I had a slight concern as he’d really hit top form in the last couple of games. Only slight because we have some real strength in depth now but that concern grew considerably when I learnt there had been a bug going through the camp in the week. That being the case energy levels would likely be depleted with tanks running empty sooner than if fully fit. Plus we have some players who at the best of times are not quite your 90 minute men.

Throw in that Blackpool are a good side and a draw wasn’t a bad result at all. Just how good I’m not sure. During the game I knew Tim R was impressed with them and in his customary post-match call to Radio Oxford had them as a top three finisher. Don’t think I’d go that far with much confidence but they’re likely to be there or thereabouts. I can’t yet see them as an Ipswich or a Plymouth which I picked up on early in the last campaign.

Any team with a goal scorer like Jordan Rhodes in their ranks is going to be a threat. He’s got eight league goals already this season. Unfortunately I have to say on the evidence so far I think this is the one department where we are considerably lacking when compared to the quality and choice available in other positions. We have not got an out and out goal scorer or a centre-forward that stands out. Perhaps Mark Harris will come on some and I have not written him off yet but with each passing game I conclude that this becomes just a little less likely.

In the first half we played that “patient possession” game which is so very much the Manning way as we know and, for the most part, absolutely love. There’s always that little voice in my head saying but if we lose it we’ll get undone. Risk and reward. This far into the season this approach has paid huge dividends. Blackpool were onto us quite quickly but such was the accuracy in the way we moved the ball about and for the most part the way the receiving player controlled it, we looked quite comfortable.

We didn’t force matters and were more than willing to go backwards and sideways, but with an eye out for any opportunity that might be on further forward.

In what possibly was only our second threatening foray forward we took the lead in the 36th minute. And what a goal this was. All passing and player movement.

I’m writing this FV without watching any replays back because when I do so it takes me way longer to knock it out than I’d like but from memory the number of passes in this move must have been well into double figures. When the cross came in from Stan Mills I thought great move but not quite as it was going to evade all yellow shirts. Again though there was that man Greg Leigh coming in at the far post for an excellent finish. If I can’t spot such runs from the back of the SSU what chance have the opposition got?

Ruben Rodrigues was instrumental in the creation of this goal. He oozed class once again and although I wouldn’t have thought it possible seems to be getting better each game he plays.

By the end of this encounter most of the stats pointed to a very even contest. Possession was 50:50 which tells how dominant the visitors were in the second period.

Where it comes to shots and bookings though there was a difference.

We only had four shots with two on target to their nine and three respectively. We had no yellow cards shown. The Tangerines had five.

Thomas Kirk was the referee. I usually find it very hard to praise many officials. It was the same here even though conversations I had went along the lines of “he got most decisions right”. When criticising referees I’m more and more coming round to thinking that it goes much wider than focusing on one individual and two assistants on a match day. They’re all part of a system which doesn’t seem to be fit for purpose a lot of the time to me. Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) and therefore by implication the FA, the Premier League and the EFL. The International Football Association Board (IFAB). And don’t start me on VAR. Or more to the point how appallingly it is being used and in my opinion under-utilised when correct decisions could be arrived at in split seconds given the technology around today.

Back to Saturday. Blackpool, fouls committed 15. So many of them were deliberate and just enough to stop us playing. I am not an advocate of waving the yellow around willy nilly but when it is clear that there’s been no attempt to play the ball, an early booking for such a misdemeanour would surely lead to a better and more flowing game of football. For me a genuine but slightly mistimed attempt to win the ball, provided it is not dangerous, is something different altogether. Then there’s shirt pulling. I get outraged by this. It spoils the game. Referees don’t care. This happened numerous times in this game. Often right under the nose of Kirk or one of his helpers. I’m sure we were sinned against more than we sinned but I turned to Mrs FV on quite a few occasions and said “that should have been a foul to them”. If referees let these things go, players will continue to do them – and I don’t blame them. If you don’t you’ll get left behind. This is another form of risk and reward. The visiting supporters were not happy with Kirk either.

In the second period we had one flowing move quite early on but I recall Rodrigues not getting a shot away as I would have hoped. RR lasted until the 81st minute but he looked tired and his influence waned.

Blackpool had looked lively in the first half but were now kicking on as we were going backwards both in terms of how we were playing the game and where we were playing the game. We were doing all the chasing. They were quicker than ever in getting to us when we had the ball. We were creating nothing.

I thought it was only a matter of time before we were pegged back but as the clock ticked just past the 90 I stupidly believed that we might well just limp over the line. Six league wins on the spin don’t happen very often, so I suppose we were due a kick in the nuts and that came in the second minute of the five added when inevitably Rhodes scored.

Mrs FV said that to concede so late on was the worst thing about it. Perhaps I was in an argumentative mood but I disagreed. The best time I thought. If they’d got their leveller say 10 or 15 minutes earlier I think they would have gone on to win it.

As there was still three minutes remaining with the score now at 1-1 I was still quite worried but we got a point when it could have been worse.

We’ve talked ourselves into believing that we have a deep squad. Perhaps that is indeed true but it didn’t show today. Josh Murphy and Gatlin O’Donkor had 14 minutes of game time but did nothing. Very disappointing. Tyler Goodrham and Fin Stevens did okay but didn’t standout. To have claimed the extra two points we needed a hero or two off the bench and didn’t have them. Or a hero on from the start who was able to dig deep and find something extra that they didn’t realise was there. We didn’t have that either.

Josh McEachran who hasn’t been selected as a recent starter and isn’t a player who usually lasts right through to the end had to play the entirety of this one. That tells that we were up against it. After a very shaky start his passing ability was there for all to see though.

Losing Mills just past the hour mark with what looked like a hamstring tweak was a blow. He was sadly an under used asset in his time on the park and appeared understandably to be getting quite frustrated.

The hope now is that nearly all of our non-injured players are about 100% match fit ahead of the Wigan encounter on Tuesday. We could do with Brannagan in such condition.

Whilst supporting a football club can become close to all consuming we’re regularly reminded that it’s only a game with much more concerning events happening around the world. Why worry about dropping two points late on in this and whether our squad for Wigan will be in a decent shape? PRB’s pre-match words about the suffering of innocent victims in the Middle East were strong reminders and it is easy to forget the war in Ukraine started in early 2022.

Sobering stuff and add to that the death of Bobby Charlton that filtered through during this game. I was one of those at the Manor who witnessed his thunderbolt equaliser in that 2-2 draw in 1972. What a player and absolute gentleman. They don’t make them like that anymore. Very much a different era.

I’m going to finish on a positive note. Six games unbeaten. 16 points gained from 18 available. And we’ve got Marcus Browne and Kyle Edwards to come back from injury. Both hamstrings and both out for months but it’s been a while now. Patience might be required and on such matters it was fantastic to see Alex Gorrin back on the bench.  How long has that been?


Blackpool Financial Analysis by Colin Barson

 Blackpool FC, a big club, right? Much bigger than us, right? Both statements must be true because their fans keep telling us this on social media, right? Well, the following paints a rather different picture.

I’ll start, as always, by looking at the present financial picture, a little look at ownership, and then a bit of comparison over the years that Blackpool fans may be a bit surprised by.

If we look at the figures in the table below, they are at first sight quite impressive. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that these figures are from 2022, when Blackpool had one of their two recent seasons in the Championship. They feature fairly high in all metrics of both income and expenditure (except Administration expenses and Equity, which I’ll come to) so you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re bigger than the average League One club. But if we look back at the previous three years, when they were actually in League One, we have a club with a turnover of only, £5.5m, £5.4m, and £4.5m which would put them firmly in the bottom four of League One clubs. If we go back a little further, to the latter days of the reviled Oyston family, the numbers are even smaller, but in the interests of fairness it has to be pointed out that for some of that period fans were boycotting the club.

Going back to today’s figures (well 2022’s but you know what I mean) it’s easy to see just how much a club’s income jumps when they get to the Championship, where the bulk of the near £8.9m in other income comes from the bigger slice of the TV money that is given to clubs at that level. It’s also interesting to see how wages can jump with promotion too, as Blackpool’s wages in 2022 were 150% of their 2021 wages. They report a particularly low administration expenses amount, and always seem to have done so, and I think some of what is normally in this category (back office staff wages and general employees’ wages) has been put into the cost of sale category. This gives a false picture of paying higher player wages than they probably do. Nothing wrong with this, but it skews the comparison with other clubs a little. They have reasonable cash at bank of £1.7m but a higher than average negative equity of over £7.5m, although we’ll look into that in a little more depth later.

Now onto Blackpool’s ownership situation. As previously mentioned, they were previously owned by the Oyston family, headed up by Owen Oyston, a man who would certainly feature in any hall of fame for football club owning wrong’uns. Thankfully for them his long reign came to an end in 2019. He was bought out by local boy made good Simon Sadler, a man who made his money in the financial world of south east Asia. The club is owned through Blackpool Football Club Holdings Limited along with Blackpool Football Club Hotel Limited and Blackpool Football Club Stadium and Property Limited. BFC Holdings is in turn owned by Seaside Holdings Limited, a company registered in the Cayman Islands, whose ultimate controlling party is Simon Sadler. Having met Mr Sadler on a few occasions I’d say he falls into the category of a fan of the club who has done well for himself (it’s difficult to tell just how well) and has come into it with the best of intentions. As of 30 June 2022 Seaside Holdings had provided £4.8m to BFC Holding and Simon Sadler himself a further £16.16m. This includes the sum of £8.4m to purchase the group. It is noted in the accounts that a further sum of £4m would be required in 2023. Taking the £4m for 2023 into account, and then subtracting the initial £8.4m purchase price it would appear that BFC Holdings will have lost £17m in four years, although they have spent about £1.8m on their training ground. Most of the income and expenditure of the group relates to the football club, with the hotel generating about £1.5m and the property side about £1m per annum. If a hotel in a run-down area of Blackpool, surrounded by other hotels and B&Bs, can generate £1.5m per annum I think the outlook for the high-end hotel at The Triangle looks very promising!

The equity situation is interesting as the fixed assets and current assets of the group are quite healthy at approximately £19m. There are a few numbers that make up that total that stand out to me, such as £3.5m for “goodwill” but they do include the stadium and hotel incorporated into it. But when you take the total creditors of £26.5m (all due within one year) from the assets you arrive at the £7.5m negative equity situation. Like many clubs, us included at the moment, Blackpool would be in big trouble without its owner’s backing.

To finish here’s the comparison that I mentioned earlier (look away now Blackpool fans). So, what makes a club bigger than another? It can be different things according to different people, historical league position, historical attendances, financial situation, and potential are probably four things that most people would include. Well, we’ve seen that financially Blackpool are no great shakes and their income, when in the same league as us, has been smaller than ours, from the data that is available. Potential is an emotive subject, but I believe we have a much bigger catchment area, in a wealthier part of the country, with more disposable income, although of course this is subjective. So, I looked at the other two factors, league position and attendances. I went back as far as 1980, which seemed as good a starting point as any, as we were both in the old Division Three and finished only one place apart. It also gives a really good sample of 43 years of history up to the present day. In those 43 years we have finished in the higher position 23 times to Blackpool’s 20. “But what about our massive big club attendances?” I hear all of the Blackpool fans saying. Well in that same period we had the higher attendances 25 times to Blackpool’s 18.

What was it that Jim Royle used to say? Big club my ****!!!

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