Blackpool Supporters' Liaison Officer column: We can all support FC Mariupol

By now, surely everyone has heard of Mariupol in Ukraine, a beautiful city on the Black Sea. Up until a few weeks ago its citizens could go and watch FC Mariupol playing in the Ukrainian Premier League.

By Steve Rowland
Saturday, 26th March 2022, 12:30 pm
Football fans around the world have shown unity with Ukraine
Football fans around the world have shown unity with Ukraine

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Like Blackpool they play in tangerine (and blue). Like Blackpool they have a seagull on their club badge. Unlike Blackpool, there will be no football in Mariupol for a long time, since the Russian invasion has devastated the city and many parts of the country, causing six million people to be displaced and bringing terror and unimaginable hardships in what is the biggest humanitarian disaster since WWII.

With the Club’s approval, we organised a bucket collection in aid of the DEC Ukraine Relief Fund before the home game against Sheffield United. That raised over £1,500 on the night and the total has been rising towards £2,000 since via online donations. The need for this aid effort grows by the day. Donating online is safe, secure and the money goes direct to DEC Ukraine Relief. Our page is open at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BlackpooolFansForUkraine.

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One unexpected consequence of the Russian offensive has been the action taken by the UK government against Russian ‘oligarchs’, which had an immediate effect on a number of English football clubs, Chelsea and Everton being among the most high-profile.

All of this comes at a time when Tracey Crouch MP (who headed up the Fan Led Review of football) is about to press ahead with trying to bring its recommendations to the statute book, recognising that football’s track-record of self-regulation has not proved an effective curb on excesses and dubious practices and that the time for robust independent regulation has finally come.

Despite the problems that have beset certain clubs, it must be remembered that owners are vital stakeholders in the game. There are many decent and genuine owners and we are all grateful for the fact that Blackpool FC is in a so much better place now than a few years ago. Their input as to a fairer way of organising the financing of the pyramid and a better process of governance for all 92 clubs is vital.

It is quite possible that the Fan Led Review will be an agenda item at the next Structured Dialogue meeting between the Blackpool FC board and fans’ group representatives in April. The date will be confirmed shortly but I invite questions and topics for discussion. Please email these to me at: [email protected]

It has been well-documented that Preston North End decided to only offer 2,200 tickets to Blackpool fans for the rearranged fixture at Deepdale. The Club has taken the fairest approach to making this limited number of tickets available (based on recent purchase history) and has also arranged for a live screening of the game in the Matthews Suite at Bloomfield Road. The evening will include a pre-match Q&A with a former player. All details are on the Club website.

We host Nottingham Forest a week on Saturday, in a lunchtime game (to fit in with the Sky TV schedule). A win would contribute to making our run-in very tasty. Let’s make it another fantastic day at Bloomfield Road. UTMP!

Feel free to contact me with any supporter-related issues or queries at [email protected] or via @BFCSLO on Facebook or Twitter

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