How the 2014/15 Blackpool FC season unfolded and got worse and worse and worse...
Before the first ball of the 2014/15 season was even kicked, 17 players were released and five loanees sent back to their clubs, while player-manager Barry Ferguson left the club having taken charge following Paul Ince's sacking in January.
His replacement was Jose Riga, Pool’s first overseas manager and third boss in just three years.
The Belgian faced a monumental task with just seven registered professional players by the time pre-season training began.
And it wasn’t long before Riga was at loggerheads with chairman Karl Oyston in a row over transfers.
He also ordered a media blackout, declining to speak with The Gazette and telling his staff and players not to do so either during the pre-season campaign.
On July 24, club president Valeri Belokon called on owner Owen Oyston and son Karl to put money aside for new players in an open letter published in a national newspaper.
By August 8, 12 dotted lines were signed, and the Seasiders had 21 squad members.
But some were not registered in time for the first game of the season against Nottingham Forest, and just four out of a permitted seven substitutes were named. Among them were two youth players.
Pool crashed to a 2–0 defeat.
It would be several weeks — and consecutive defeats — until the team registered their first point, in a 0–0 bore draw at home to Wolves.
And their first win came against Cardiff in the club’s 11th league fixture on October 3.
However, that 1–0 victory was followed by another three consecutive losses, and Riga was sacked.
When Lee Clark took over two days later, Pool were five points adrift at the bottom of the Championship, having lost 10 out of 15 games and winning only once.
They hadn’t fared any better in the Carling Cup, having crashed out of the Carling Cup to Shrewsbury Town in the first round.
Despite hopes of a revival against the odds, Clark and Pool went on to win just three more games that season, and the club was relegated on April 6.
Along the way, heavy defeats were suffered by Bournemouth (6–1) and Watford (7–2), a game they were at one stage leading by two goals, while then-Premier League side Aston Villa had knocked the Seasiders out of the FA Cup in the third round.
On April 27, Clark questioned his side’s fight, energy, and belief after they matched an unwanted 106-year-old record — failing to win an away game all season — following a 3–2 defeat in South Wales to Cardiff.
The calamitous season was then perhaps summed up best on the last day of the season, at home to Huddersfield Town, when fans invaded the pitch in protest at how the club was being run shortly after half-time.
The game was abandoned at 0-0, with the FA later ruling that’s the result that would be recorded, making it Blackpool’s 18th game in a row without a win. Pool were fined £50,000.
Days later, Clark walked away from the club, later calling its atmosphere ‘toxic’.
He said: “I am in the game because I love it.
“I want to be in football and sample the pressures around it, but not to the point where it affects whether my family can come to games.”