Before the current season, Simon Grayson stated that he would be looking at bringing in young inexperienced Premiership players, possibly on season long loans. Part way through the season we were told that the club would not be getting any young inexperienced Premiership players on loan as the manager wanted to get experienced players. Yet two weeks later we were told that Blackpool had tried to sign young inexperienced Premiership player, Fraizer Campbell from Manchester United, who in the end chose to go to Hull City on loan and ended up scoring two goals on his debut for The Tiger, his first senior goals. In addition we were also told that Grayson has tried to sign 20 players on loan in a two week period, yet didn’t manage to get even one player on loan. Yet there are currently nearly 40 Premiership players on loan at Championship clubs, so there are players available and who will come to Championship clubs. So why is it that Blackpool just do not seem able to sign players? Matt Jackson (one of just two loan signings) from fellow Championship club Watford was interviewed on Sky Sports and talked about how poor the infrastructure was at Bloomfield Road.
At times we have been told that the town of Blackpool itself located as it is on the Fylde Coast is somehow ‘out of the way’. Yet the town is the most popular seaside resort in the UK and is visited by millions of tourists each year. There are over 250,000 people living on The Fylde Coast. If Blackpool is supposedly ‘out of the way’ and seemingly an unattractive proposition for players to want to come to play based on our geographical location, then how on earth do Preston North End, Burnley and each of the seven North West Premiership clubs manage to sing players (all of whom are within 60 miles of Blackpool)? How do clubs like Plymouth Argyle and Aberdeen manage to sign players? To me the comments made by Matt Jackson say a hell of a lot. Players talk, and perhaps it is simply down to how the club itself is perceived in players circles. For instance, the 1950’s training ground facilities – hardly appealing to players in the 21st century. The club itself admitted in 2003 that the current training ground was ‘windswept, getting old and the facilities had become a bit worn.’ And that getting new first class facilities would, ‘make the club more attractive to prospective players.’ The club are perfectly aware then, that the current training ground is one of the reasons why players do not sign for Blackpool FC. Until the club does something about its image within the game then we will continue to struggle bringing in players.
The Training Ground
It is quite clear to everyone, Blackpool fans, Blackpool residents, the owners and employees of the Blackpool FC, the clubs players & coaching staff and critically to prospective new players that the the Squires Gate facilities are simply not good enough. So, going back it makes very interesting reading to see how over the past six years there has been plenty of talk about new state of the art facilities, about new sites having been found and even Karl Oyston himself being quoted as saying that the facilities are ‘inadequate’ and ‘not ideal by any stretch of the imagination’. Yet here we are in December 2007 after all the talk and still no new facilities. And no proespect as far as we can tell of any new facilities. Why? The training ground is surely putting off players from signing for the club.
Back in June 2002, it was revealed that Blackpool FC had approached Fylde Rugby club about building a new state of the art training facility possibly at Woodland Road in Ansdell. And that the club had looked at other sites in South Fylde for new training facilities. It was also stated that the location of the new training complex would be known by the end of the next season in May 2003.
In January 2003 an article appeared in the Blackpool Gazette entitled, ‘Pool plan to train at new home’. The article stated that the club were soon to love into a new £2,000,000 state of the art training facility at Grahams Cottage on Preston New Road in Westby. Planning permission had been applied for and the current Squires Gate traning ground would be sold for redevelopment. The new facility would provide a much needed covered pitch, an all weather training ground and new ancillary facilities. All of which would be in place by early 2004.
Karl Oyston revealed in October 2004 that the club had scrapped plans to build a new training complex at Whyndyke Farm, and that the planning application had been withdrawn, stating, ‘We have withdrawn the planning application for Whyndyke Farm, so it seems unlikely that we’ll be able to do anything there. Squires Gate is, as has been well documented, inadequate in its current form. Its unlikely there is anything we can do there that would make that place fit for our purpose. It needs more land, which we’d have to take from the airport, and there’s a problem with the wind coming in off the sea. It’s not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve one or two other options, none of which we’re very far down the road with.’
Squires Gate has been vandalised a number of times. In June 2001, ther training ground was attacked three times with glass bottles being smashed over the pitches. In January 2007 the training ground was vandalised, when Simon Graysons office was ransacked, computers stolen and doors smashed. The club also confirmed that they had also previously had the back door set on fire and windows smashed at the site.
Inspect our books
Back in August 2006 the Gazette ran the headline, ‘Inspect our books – Oystons offer to the Gazette’ with Karl Oyston offering the newspaper the opportunity to inspect the clubs finances to confirm that Valery Belokons ‘takeover’ was going to plan. Well firstly what takeover? And secondly, what became of the offer? Did the Gazette get a response?
Everything in this article is taken from fully verifiable articles in the Blackpool Gazette and from direct quotes from Karl Oyston, Normunds Malnacs and others at Bloomfield Road. It is not taken from ‘internet rumours’ or ‘Message Board gossip’. It seems that at times the club say one thing yet do something else. However, it should always be borne in mind that things they say can be checked and some of the things they say can come back to bite them, hard.
Say One Thing, Do Another!