Where there is a long-running dispute between a club’s ownership and its fans on-field, success is normally hard to come by. As with any organisation, sporting or otherwise, a breakdown in this relationship (for companies swap fans for shareholders) makes for a messy situation, not the bedrock for a rosy future.
Unfortunately, there are many examples of this in football right now as Hull City know only too well. Their team are stuck at the wrong end of the Premier League table and have recently dispensed with the services of a good football man in Mike Phelan.
Photo by dom fellowes
In the Championship, unrest between the board and the fans has been rumbling for years at clubs such as Coventry City and Nottingham Forest, while in League Two the Tangerine Dream has turned into a nightmare for Blackpool F.C.
While Hull City fans won’t rest until they get shot of Assem Allam, Blackpool chairman, Karl Oyston, has been the target of abuse following the club’s fall from grace after demotion from the Premier League a few short years ago.
The supporters have stayed away in droves – a club record lowest-ever attendance of just 766 fans turned up to see their side bow out of the Checkatrade Trophy against Wycombe the other night – and playing at home has become a handicap not a help.
A run of three home games in the space of just eight days clearly places pressure on the purse strings of fans; however, the mistrust and antipathy towards Oyston and his cohorts is the biggest factor behind so many stayaways.
Stuck in mid-table and without a win since they beat Hartlepool, a run stretching to five matches, Blackpool need all the encouragement they can get if they are to somehow turn the situation around and make a late push for the play-offs.
That said, Gary Bowyer’s side are only five points off the play-off zone in League Two and have a game in hand on seventh-placed Colchester. Also, their goal difference of +11 is better than those teams immediately above them.
After Tuesday’s F.A. Cup 3rd round replay, Blackpool take on Yeovil at home and then follow in the footsteps of Liverpool and make the long trek down to Plymouth, a game likely to be hotly contested by tipsters such as SBAT. Argyle sit second in the league and have their tails up after holding Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield in the cup, so getting anything there might be a tough ask, which makes bagging all three points against Yeovil, who are four places and four points below them in the table, all the more vital.
Win that game and the next two at home, against Colchester and Crawley, and Blackpool fans might start believing that bad things can sometimes turn to good. First, they’ll have to mend their goal-shy ways, a problem that has bedevilled quite a few managers who’ve passed through the Bloomfield Road revolving door in recent years.
Only once have Blackpool scored more than one goal in a game (2-0 away to Luton) in the last 10 games, in league and cup, producing a paltry return of six goals. With that sort of fare on offer, no wonder the fans are reluctant to turn up. After all, there is plenty more excitement to be had elsewhere in Blackpool, where the phrase ‘being taken for a ride’ has a much more positive connotation.