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Gordon's letter to the English Football League: Blackpool FC and Supporter Engagement

Gordon has written to the Chairman of the English Football League, Ian Lenagan, regarding the ongoing problems at Blackpool FC between the club's owners and the supporters. You can see the full text of the letter below.

9th March 2018

Dear Mr Lenagan,

Blackpool Football Club & Supporter Engagement

You will be aware of the continued concerns and anxiety across Blackpool about the ongoing problems between the owners of Blackpool FC and its fans and supporters. It is a situation that has caused much sadness to people in the town and my constituents. Over the past five years this has resulted in thousands of people (some lifelong fans) choosing to boycott Bloomfield Road in protest at the club’s running.

I am glad to see that you have agreed in principle to meet with representatives from the Blackpool Supporters Trust (BST) and other fan groups. I note that that you have offered to include local MPs in the process and I would like to be part of it. The meeting is an important step forward because I know that the BST – who represent many of Blackpool FC’s supporters in the town have been concerned and raised with me the EFL’s reluctance to engage with them on the problems around the club’s ownership.

I have consistently, not least in conjunction with the late Jimmy Armfield, urged the club’s owners to engage with the fans, talk to the BST and open up its governance to them. In my latest meeting with the BST last month, we discussed this and the urgent need for organisations like yourself to engage strongly with the owners as well. The BST also raised with me their request to see a case review. I support the BST and the use of Blackpool FC as a potential template for you in this area, which could be useful in other circumstances affecting clubs and supporters.

You will also appreciate there has been major concern about this in Parliament – which led to a special debate last year in which I and many others spoke criticising the lack the lack of action by the FA on this matter. I believe the EFL urgently needs to take its share of responsibilities on this matter as well. I have previously backed a Bill in Parliament by my Labour colleague Clive Efford MP that would have given accredited groups such as the BST greater say and influence over how their club is run. I believe this should be part of your discussion because I think it this will help us move forward in resolving some of the problems we face at Blackpool.

Clubs like ours have a proud history, going back to our epic victory in the 1953 cup final and the heroic careers of both Stanley Matthews and Jimmy Armfield. If the situation at Blackpool FC continues to go unchallenged and the EFL continue to fail to engage with supporters’ groups, it could have both significant and long lasting damage not just on the club and the community it serves, but also on the reputation of the EFL itself.

Best wishes

Gordon Marsden – Member of Parliament for Blackpool South

CC Blackpool Supporters Trust

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