The AVFTT Season Review (more off pitch than on!)
By Editor
Monday 07 May 2018 18:11:00
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If 'Patience is a virtue' then Blackpool fans must be the most virtuous fans in the country. The last 4 years have been like a game of Jenga. No matter how many pieces were removed, the Oyston Tower refused to crumble. Having withdrawn support, finances and goodwill, it did appear as if Seasiders supporters had done all they could to defeat the family. There was no doubt the Oyston grip on the club was starting to wobble, but it would take a massive push for it to fall. Fortunately Blackpool fans had the ultimate ally. Valeri Belokon not only removed some vital pieces of the puzzle, he practically wiped out it's foundations. Whilst we may not see the spectacular Oyston fall that we all hoped for, the tower is being demolished piece by piece and eventually the end game will be achieved. In the context of the last 9 months, the football has almost been an unwelcome sideshow. Fortunately it had few highlights, talking points or excitement and a mid-table finish was entirely appropriate. That said, the fact that Gary Bowyer has kept this side in League One is a credit to both him and his players.

Since Ian Holloway left excitement and ambition has been replaced with disinterest and damage limitation. Bar last season's Play Off final, which won't live long in many fan's memories, we've had six seasons where, even if the Oyston family hadn't self imploded, Blackpool Football Club has gone from being the entertainers to merely existing. Maybe the best example of that was when the recent 'Retained List' was announced. Will Aimson was a vital player in the Play Off final, Andy Taylor helped expertly captain the side with heart and experience, Jim McAllister, Danny Philliskirk and Sessi D'Almeida have all chipped in and yet they all leave with hardly a shrug of the shoulder. At one time the retained list was a massive story, nowadays it's no more than another example of the lack of loyalty between club, players and fans. The fact that Mark Cullen and Clark Robertson, two players who have been with the side 3 seasons, may leave in the summer won't even raise an eyebrow amongst fans. The club has lost it's heart, it's passion and it's direction. If you asked any Blackpool fan to name the Play Off side which won promotion to League One in 2007, most would reel off half a dozen names in a flicker, ask the same of the team which played at Wembley last season and there would be more umms and errs than player names. Only when the unwanted side show of the Oystons have gone, will the players and the club return to centre stage.

It would be churlish to look back over the last 12 months and not recognise the team's achievements. Everyone's favourites to go back down, they not only proved they were good enough to stay in this league, but with a few extra players, less injuries to key personell and a bit more luck and chances taken and they could have snook in to the Play Offs. Thankfully, they fell some way short. Back to back promotions would have been in no one's benefit other than the Oystons. The Player of the Season vote reflected who the stand out performers were. Curtis Tilt and Clark Robertson were the best thing about the side, Ollie Turton's inclusion was impressive, Joe Lumley's presence all season could have lead to a very different league position, a lack of striker options often killed games and Bowyer may regret dropping Ryan, Longstaff and Otabor for periods during the season as they made up the most attractive midfield.There were too many bad summer signings - Peter Hartley, Max Clayton, Scott Quigley, Nick Anderton and Ben Williams were a disappointment, however Bowyer's loans were decent with Lumley, Longstaff, Cooke and Otabor all impressing. The fact all four loanees have now returned to their parent clubs, players are now out of contract and others have gone, means 'Pool have just 3/4 first team players remaining. This will undoubtedly lead to another summer of headaches for Bowyer, who may not himseld have the appetite for another 12 months of this farce.  

Away from the football, the Oyston family have provided entertainment in abundance. The court room dramas which saw the family ridiculed, exposed and shamed, the fascinating departure of Karl Oyston, the bizarre antics of Sam Oyston, the night of the long knives which saw the likes of Rod Dyer and Alex Cowdy removed, the debacle around the sad death of a club legend, the arrival of Morticia and the 'Club Statements' which have been both jaw dropping and laughable in equal measure. It's often been said that if you submitted the events of the last 12 months as a film script, you'd be accused of lacking plausibility, reality and common sense. Throw in the ludicrous side attractions of the EFL, wooly mammoths, bailiffs and the FPG and it seems inadequate to devote just a paragraph to these events. However, why give credence to a series of events which have done nothing more than make Blackpool FC a laughing stock. It's remarkable that bar the (relegated) Bury fans that we've not been the butt of jokes of every football supporter in the country, however most realise that they are only one bad owner away from a similar fate.

What happens next should be straight forward. Valeri Belokon claims back his money by taking Oyston's assetts to auction and, in turn, we should see the demise of the family from Bloomfield Road. That is what should happen in it's simplest form but throw in Oyston's supposed investors, the EFL's ban on Belokon, whether the Latvian wants the club or who would bid for it if it did come under the hammer and it's not as simple as it should be. There again, this is Blackpool FC and things are never straight forward. It's a relief that the season is over, we're grateful that the Seasiders are still a League One club and we now hope the next 88 days finally conclude the most unwanted chapter in the Seasiders history. Usually in football, nothing is won between May and August, however there could be a massive victory awaiting Valeri Belokon and a massive defeat bestowed on Owen Oyston. If there is one thing that playing Jenga guarantees, it's that eventually the whole thing eventually comes crashing down one way or the other.

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