Following promotion to the Championship last season and with new owners at the helm, there’s plenty to be excited about for Blackpool fans right now.
The Seasiders are surfing a wave of optimism ahead of the new campaign after piecing together a superb run of form in 2021 to finish in the top six and win the play-off final at Wembley.
That magical afternoon in the capital secured a return to the second tier for the first time since 2015 and Blackpool will be hoping to maintain their momentum as they move up a level.
“One word that would sum up the fanbase right now would be excitement,” says Dan Hopwood from Up The Mighty Pool.
“We’re absolutely buzzing and can’t wait for the season to start against Bristol City on Saturday.
“Part of the reason for that is the amazing run we had in terms of our consistency and form last season which led to our promotion.”
Blackpool managed to recover from a bad start last season, which saw them lose five of their opening seven matches.
But they would lose just two of the last 21 games and climbed up from 10th on March 20 to third at the end of the league season to secure a play-off place.
They went on to beat Oxford United in the semi-finals before coming from behind to win 2-1 against Lincoln in the final at Wembley with Kenny Dougall scoring twice either side of half-time.
And much of this success has been credited to Simon Sadler, who took over at Bloomfield Road back in 2019 following a bitter battle between Tangerine fans and the previous owner Owen Oysten.
Receivers had run the club since February after ex-owner Owen Oyston’s 31-year reign ended in the High Court before Sadler – who was born and raised in Blackpool and worked in asset management in Hong Kong since 2007 – purchased 96.2% of the club, taking control of the stadium and adjoining hotel.
The takeover marked the end of a tumultuous period in Blackpool’s history, which was heightened when ex-director Valeri Belokon successfully sued Oyston and his son Karl, the club’s former chief executive.
💬 “No one wants to see the club they love get decimated like that… but it brought us together and makes the success that much sweeter.”
— FansBet (@FansBet) August 5, 2021
Belokon brought legal action after discovering that they had “asset-stripped” the Tangerines by paying themselves huge bonuses and salaries following the club’s season in the Premier League in 2010-11.
Oyston was ordered to buy Belokon out for £31m in November 2017 but the club were eventually put into receivership by the High Court in February as Oyston was forced to pay Belokon the £25m he was still owed.
“It was hard under the previous regime, nobody wants to see the club they love get decimated like that and really struggle and drop through the leagues.
“It was absolute despair to be honest with what happened there under the previous owners but it made the fans stronger and brought us all together and it makes the success we are now seeing all the more sweeter.
“The new ownership has been absolutely amazing, I can’t speak highly enough of Simon Sadler and the team that he has put in place, it’s just been great what they’ve done.
“You can already see the off-field changes, so many things are getting put into place, the stadium’s been repainted, rust has been replaced, so much stuff has been improved and done properly.
“It’s so enjoyable to have someone who loves the club so much and to really put these changes into place and I think that’s part of the reason why there has ben such a swift return to the Championship.
“Obviously the investment that the new owner has put into place, they did say it would be a three-year plan to get us back into the Championship and I think a few of the fans were worried after the first season after we slipped-up a little bit.
“But the second season they made no rash decisions, despite a slow start, and luckily that paid off. We were by far the best team in League One when it came to the late run we had and hopefully, we can continue that in the Championship.”
The Seasiders ‘ ambition has been backed-up in the summer transfer window after they made their ninth signing of the summer last week by bringing in Arsenal striker Tyreece John-Jules on a season-long loan.
He joins the likes of Josh Bowler, Daniel Grimshaw, Reece James, Shayne Lavery and 23-year old Callum Connolly who joined from Everton after a successful loan spell.
“Our pre-season preparations have been strong, we’ve made some really solid signings that have been a cut above,” Says Dan.
“There probably needs to be a few more in certain areas, like the right back position, where we really are struggling at the moment.
“We are probably missing that little bit of quality that will push us up the table towards that top end or just to cement our place in the Championship.
“In terms of expectations, most Blackpool fans’ thoughts are about safety, so anywhere above the relegation zone we’ll be happy with.
“But personally I believe we are capable of a mid-table finish, just because of the quality, especially if we can continue the run of form we had at the end of last season.”
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