Friday, 31 January 2014

Get In Touch!

There are lots of ways you can get in touch with SISA. We are always open to feedback and actively encourage discussion amongst Members.

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Q+A with the Spirit Of Shankly Union

In the second of our Q+A's with supporters groups we spoke to the Spirit Of Shankly union who are an independent group that represent Liverpool FC supporters. Taking our questions was Paul Gardner who is the groups Secretary. We discussed the importance of independent supporters groups and how to remain positive during the tougher times for a supporter.

A huge thanks to Paul Gardner for taking the time to answer our questions.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and any follow up questions in the comments section below.

Q. Can you tell us how you came to form the Union and why it was important for supporters of Liverpool FC?

Liverpool Supporters' Union, or Spirit of Shankly as we are more widely known, were formed in January 2008. We were established after a meeting of around 400 supporters in the birthplace of Liverpool FC, the Sandon. The meeting was called to look at what could be done against the then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett who had placed massive debt on the club and had not delivered on the stadium they promised. On the night it was soon realised that there were many other issues aside from Hicks and Gillett. Such as issues over paying ridiculous amounts to travel to away games, particularly European aways. It was decided an organisation was needed that could campaign to get rid of Hicks and Gillett, but also represent supporters on issues they have when supporting Liverpool.

Q. At Blackpool we have two Supporters Groups. One is officially affiliated with the Club and the other, SISA, is independent. Do you see the formation of an independent supporters group as a necessary and important step for a clubs supporters?

An independent, active and well run supporters group is a very important step for a clubs supporters. It provides a focal point for supporters to raise concerns and to work together for the betterment of not only the supporter, but also the club. Being independent from the club has additional challenges, but being this ensures that supporters concerns can be raised without worry that they are being curtailed by a club agenda. If we have more clubs with strong independent supporters groups that work together we will see massive change in the game that many supporters want.

Q. Two of SISA's aims this year are to become a Supporters Trust and to have Bloomfield Road registered as an Asset Of Community Value. What aims do the Spirit Of Shankly Group have in the short, medium and long term?

We have constant, short, medium, long and ultimate aims which are part of our constitution and are fundamental to what we do. These can be found on our website here:

Spirit Of Shankly - Aims

Q. Finally, how did you and your fellow fans manage to keep positive during periods when it seemed that the challenges for supporters seemed insurmountable or when faced with really difficult circumstances?

It can be very challenging at times and during the harder times of a campaign it can get you down. You have to always work for small victories along the way. Gaining those small victories can help with the wider campaign whatever that may be by giving you additional backing and support from other supporters and improving your standing. You have to focus on what is winnable and work towards them along the way to your long term and ultimate goals. As an organisation that is now 6 years old we are in a position to do things now that we would not have been able to achieve in the very early days. It is important to have that perspective and to know with time and a large amount of passion for the cause you will get to where you want to be.

For more information on Liverpool Supporters' union click here

Friday, 24 January 2014

A natter with NATA

Blackpool fans are everywhere!

We caught up with our overseas Exile Officer, Jeff Hembury, to find out how things have been progressing with the North American Tangerine Army. Jeff is based in Colarado and has been pivotal in connecting Blackpool supporters in the States.

Can you tell us why you formed the North American Tangerine Army (NATA) and what progress you have made so far?

NATA was officially formed in 2011. I got in touch with my cohort James Guy through twitter and got chatting over a few match days. It got to a point, where we figured there must be more Blackpool fans over here - so we hit the message boards & started tweeting to see who else was out there. This was an idea born out of curiosity to be honest - neither of us had any pre-conceived notion to put a supporters group together, but it happened organically as more and more fans made themselves known to us. We are still a small group, but I get the feeling there are a lot more North American based fans over here.

What areas of the States have Blackpool supporters contacted you from?

Wow - all over. We have fans in Washington state, California, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Illinois, Florida, New York, West Virginia, Ohio - I'm sure I'm forgetting some. We also have representation from most provinces in Canada & someone from the Cayman Islands!

How important do you think it is for fans to become members of a supporters group?

Being part of a supporters group certainly gives a sense of belonging. Its been great to know that there are others over here that live life through tangerine tinted specs - its not the same as going to a match, but its fun interacting with our fellow fans over here in similar time zones. Our match day routines are quite different - for most of us, its too early to be drinking anything but coffee & we're listening in on the tangerine player. Occasionaly we get to see a match on TV, but its been a while! I'm sure we've got seasiders all over the world and it would be great to see some more fans groups popping up. A supporters group also shows the club that their 'catchment area' extends way beyond Blackpool now!

Finally, for our supporters living in America how can they get in touch with NATA?

Early last year James and I were contacted by Gerald Mortensen - he has really been driving our increased online presence.

Our Website Click Here

Facebook Click Here

Follow us Twitter @nataseasiders

Fans can also email the group at - new members are always welcome!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Safe Standing - Are we getting nearer?

For many years one of English football's most contentious issues has been whether safe standing should be introduced at football stadia.

From the terrace right through to Parliament this issue has been a hot topic and divides opinion. Over the last few years there has been a growing ground swell of support for the introduction of safe standing areas similar to those successfully implemented in Germany.

Heading up the initiative are the Football League who polled each of the 72 league clubs at their most recent AGM on whether they should form an executive committee to investigate the possibilities of safe standing. Three quarters of the clubs voted in favour (Blackpool voted no) and so the consultation process began with a set of questions posed to each Football League Club. The process is due to end on Friday 24th January. We will report back when the findings have been released. For more information on the campaign click here:

Earlier in the season SISA welcomed the Safe Standing Roadshow to Blackpool. It was a great opportunity for supporters to experience a model of the terracing unit that is now common place across Germany in the Bundesliga. The feedback we received was excellent and a survey of Blackpool fans asking if they would like to see safe standing introduced at Bloomfield Road showed a resounding 84% in favour of it's introduction.

                                                                   Fans experience the rail unit

Whilst the Chairman of Blackpool Football Club may currently be against the initiative the idea of it being introduced at grounds across England is still a very relevant and exciting prospect for Blackpool supporters that travel away. Some of whom may never have experienced the Spion Kop or an away trip to Peterborough's now demolished away terrace at London Road. The trip there in the 'perfect 10' season will live long in the memory for all who went.

SISA encourage the club to fully involve supporters in a consultation exercise regarding safe standing.

For more information on Safe Standing we recommend this site:

Radio Lancashire - Interview

Listen in to our Vice Chairman Stephen Smith on Radio Lancashire this morning.

Stephen identified the lack of investment in a number of areas and has called on the Chairman of Blackpool Football Club to

- Invest in the squad

- Invest in new training facilities

- Work with all fans groups for the future of the Club

Listen from 1 hour 13 minutes

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

An Open Letter to Blackpool Supporters

Blackpudlians are a resolute and determined bunch not easily put off by challenge or difficulty. If treated with respect and dignity, we are loyal, supportive and accepting – when patronised, insulted and taken for granted we are more likely to respond with what might best be described as constructive criticism – we are not a group that suffers fools or foolishness gladly – we do not have that luxury.

Blackpool FC’s greatest successes have come when playing a brand of football that most matches the town’s identity – a brash, imaginative style that makes the most of what might otherwise be regarded as largely unpromising circumstances. Who would have thought that the grey Irish seas, the possibility of foul weather throughout Summer and a wind that cuts right through visitors and locals alike would ever provide the perfect situation for a holiday destination?  The famous Blackpool sides of the 1950s’s were renowned for their pure, free flowing football and attracted huge gates wherever they played because of their fabulous style as well as their commitment to all that was good about the game. Again, under Grayson and Holloway – the town’s identity as a bastion of fun, joy and pleasure was affirmed by its football club. During these times the club and its supporters were united in a common purpose and there was a sense of hope and optimism within the club that spread itself throughout the town.

The football that Paul Ince’s team have played this season has been just about as far from that heady ideal as it is possible to get. A play style that suggests fear of defeat is now more of a driving factor than the possibility of victory. Instead of football that allows players freedom of expression, they are imprisoned in a system that requires them to sacrifice displays of their talent and technique in order to achieve some of the most dour and joyless football seen at Bloomfield Road for decades. This is, to most fans, absolutely mystifying. If the system proves successful then a certain amount of pragmatism is acceptable, as it was at the beginning of the season. However, when this system proves to be both unattractive to watch and is also failing to get results, then any merits it was initially thought to have, must now be considered disappeared entirely.

The manager’s persistence with this unsuccessful methodology, in the face of obvious and persistent failure, is an important contributing factor to his having lost the support of Blackpool fans. Equally important has been the negativity inherent in most of his public statements along with his seeming inability to take responsibility for his circumstances. When we lose, it is the fault of the match officials, the fixture list, the quality of the players at his disposal, the supporters’ not providing enough backing of the type he requires or just plain bad luck. Some of these suggestions may have merit but the absence of his willingness to take responsibility is startlingly clear. It is easy to regard Mr Ince as arrogant, and his attempts to tell some of the most supportive and best-informed fans in the country that their responses to what they see on the pitch are unwarranted, when he has clearly misinterpreted the crowd's disappointment with his choices as disapproval of the players, is both ill-advised and counter-productive.

Where Mr Ince does gain sympathy is in regards to not having the necessary resources at his disposal to properly develop his squad. If he retains support at all, it is largely because the fans recognise that he, as with his predecessors in the post of Blackpool manager, has received minimal financial support from the Chairman, Karl Oyston. Simon Grayson and Ian Holloway both benefited from money that was made available by Valeri Belokon, the club’s President, to secure bigger and better squads. As soon as Belokon ceased to plough his money into the club, and despite the enormous Premier League wealth, the investment in the football side of the business shrivelled to almost nothing. The owners helped themselves to an astonishing dividend, unparalleled in world football. Mr Oyston, who has expressed his disdain for football chairman, football agents, football players and football fans removed inordinate sums from the game for which he has such unabashed contempt and from which his family have benefited so greatly. His stance on many financial approaches to the professional game has great support among the Blackpool faithful but far more money is 'leaving the game' by entering the pockets of our owners than was ever likely to be paid to greedy agents and avaricious players.

It seems reasonable to assume that the decade long delay in our club’s own plans to replace Squires Gate has occurred for no other reason than to maximise the profit that the owners are able to make when their plans do come to fruition. Fleetwood who have recently announces a new training complex are perhaps at the other end of the scale when making risk/reward decisions but again a better balance must be possible, one in which the business side of the football club is more in harmony with our footballing endeavours. Similarly, the loan system, which Blackpool have made regular use of over the last ten years, can be an effective means of getting players who would otherwise be out of our price range to play for the club. However, it has increasingly become a core part of our strategy to rely on loan players rather than as a means of supplementing a core squad. The departure of six loan players in a short space of time leaving an impossibly threadbare squad has revealed the shortcomings of such a strategy - a situation that occurred previously when Simon Grayson left the club.

Mr Oyston is a man who describes his own customers as peculiar and a mob when in fact, he has, when it comes to football finances, some of the most knowledgeable and well-informed supporters in the country. His insistence in constantly talking about the club in fiscal terms has encouraged many of the club’s supporters to pay much closer attention to the finances of the club. We are likely amongst the most realistic and undemanding supporters in the UK when it comes to club finances and Karl Oyston should take some credit for that. However, we understand other basic notions relating to business and not just that it should remain in the black at all costs. The balance between investment in the squad and ensuring that the owners are properly rewarded for their risks and effort have long since passed the point of proper balance and this will continue to have a negative effect on the success of the football club. It is no coincidence that Blackpool are the only club to have been promoted from the fourth tier to the Premier Division via the play-offs, financially we refuse to compete with clubs that are challenging at the top of the various divisions. In such circumstances, it appears that our best, perhaps only hope for promotion, is through the play-offs.
Mr Oyston has spoken, in his time with the club, a great deal more about financial management than he has about football matters. He has made it clear that his primary concern is the wellbeing of his business. That financial profitability is the main focus of the club and the well-being of the owners is paramount.

The mark of a true leader is someone who is prepared to sacrifice his own desires for the greater good. What we have at Blackpool are two people who appear prepared to sacrifice the hopes and dreams of everyone else in order to satisfy their own vision. Our football club, our town and its supporters deserve far better than this and we at SISA will do all that we can to help bring the plight of our football club to greater attention.

SISA will often disagree with the choices and decisions that the owners make but that does not make us a mob of anti-Oystonites. SISA will express the opinions of our members forthrightly and publicly. We are a pro-Blackpool group with the express aim of maintaining an independent voice for Blackpool supporters. We will attempt to hold those who own, manage and represent our club to account, be it employees bringing the club into disrepute with ill-disciplined or errant behaviour, owners for relieving the business of inordinate amounts of wealth or anyone else whose actions hinder the development and success of the football club that we support. We intend to form a Trust and trust is a word that has real meaning for us - we must be able to represent as broad a body of opinion as is possible and intend to remain responsible to our members, the people of the town and all supporters of our great club.

We invite all Blackpool fans to ‘blow the whistle’ on the chronic lack of investment in the club. Volunteers will be handing out whistles outside the ground prior to the Doncaster game on January 25th. We will be asking fans to blow their whistles in the 53rd minute of the game for a period of 60 seconds. This is in no way a reflection on the players who, when Saturday comes, remain our footballing heroes - we will continue to provide the team with unstinting support whatever the circumstances. We, as Blackpool fans and patrons of the club request that the owners reinvest in the players and the infrastructure of the club, a greater proportion of the money earned by the football team and largely provided by us, its’ paying customers. We will continue to convey this message to the owners for as long as it might take.

SISA Statement

SISA welcome today’s decision to relieve both Paul Ince and Alex Rae of their duties. Recent results have, in our view, rendered their positions untenable.

We wish them both well for the future.

We find the decision to also remove Steve Thompson from his position a surprising one. On behalf of our members we wish to thank Steve for all his has done for players and fans alike during his time at the Club. He will be fondly remembered for his pivotal role in the 'best trip'.

In light of today’s announcement SISA confirms that it intends to cancel Saturday’s proposed demonstration.

We also wish Barry Ferguson every success in his new role and hope that he can help the Club move forward and secure our Championship status.

A further statement will follow once we have had an opportunity to reflect on this afternoon’s announcement.

Tim Fielding

Monday, 20 January 2014

Demonstration Update

We would like to thank everyone who responded to us directly, on social media or on the message boards. There has been a huge amount of support for the idea of a demonstration at the Doncaster match this Saturday. There have also been a number of concerns and suggestions made about the form that the demonstration will take. The SISA committee intend to ensure that any protest causes as little disruption to the match itself or impact the supporters’ enjoyment of the game.


It is also vital to ensure that this is a peaceful demonstration and that any potential conflicts between supporters and stewards/police officers are avoided: SISA will therefore not be handing out whistles for supporters to take into the ground. We are also sharing details of the demonstration with the Police and the Club to ensure that the demonstration passes off safely. We have therefore revised our plan to the following:


1) On the 5th minute, a slow drum roll will begin indicating the start of the demonstration.


2) Throughout that minute supporters voice their disapproval of the on field and off field management of our Club by singing ‘We Want Our Blackpool back’


3) At the end of the minute, again signalled in advance, supporters launch a chant of “We love you Blackpool we do.”


SISA trusts that during the game fans continue to maintain total support for the team. We encourage all supporters to respect the choices of their fellow fans, whether they choose to demonstrate or not. The intention is to send a clear message to the club's owners of the strength of feeling that exists amongst supporters for change, in the form of greater investment in the club as well as the appointment of a manager who shares the aspirations of the supporters and will respect the history and reputation of the club. If you do wish to support this initiative please spread the word by text, email, Facebook etc.

If you have any views or opinions please let us know.


Braveheart vs Lionheart

Guest Article from...

Dean Williamson (SISA Social Media Representative)

Like most Blackpool supporters I have spent the last 48 hours wildly searching the Web for information on what is happening with Paul Ince. It's difficult to siphon through the mass of vitriol fuelled posts on AVFTT and the Twitter '#inceout' tweets scouring for clues without depressing ones self more with a situation that is increasingly difficult to fathom any truth out of. The Football Club is a closed shop for now and the closest we have got to a potential announcement was the spotting of a Sky Television van outside the stadium yesterday. Still nothing.

Resigned to patiently waiting for the yellow ticker tape to arrive on Sky Sports News I decided to look back the last time things got that bad the majority of supporters called for the managers head. Colin Hendry is still the only manager to be sacked by the Chairman what parallels are there between then and now?

Whilst it's difficult to compare win ratios given the standard of opposition. Neither manager has a glowing record. Hendry had a win ratio of 34%, Ince is at 27% now.

Both Mr Hendry and Mr Ince, it could be argued, had a lot to live up to given what their predecessors achieved. The former following a certain Steve McMahon who brought two LDV trophies to the Club then our first major silverware in over a decade. The latter following Ian Holloway and the Premiership promotion, a returned to the 'promised land' for the first time in decades.

Back in 2005 with the club languishing in 21st place and having only recorded 3 wins in the League, Hendry was duly 'removed from his post'. It was reported at the time that the Club had asked Hendry to quit by way of a personal letter a month earlier but he refused to give in. This current season Blackpool languish at 24th in the form table at the time of writing. Like the aforementioned Hendry, Ince has gone on record saying he will not walk away. This time the Chairman has backed the Manager.

No plans to sack Ince

Finally, it's also worth noting that Hendy's last game in charge was against Doncaster, which is also Ince's next game. Could he face the same fate or will we see movement before the next pre-match press conference? This time he might not have a choice whether he attends or not...

(The views represented in this articledo not reflect the views of Seasiders Independent Supporters Association and are the views of the author only)

Radio Lancashire - Interview

Catch our Vice Chairman, Stephen Smith, discussing the current situation on Radio Lancashire from Saturday.

Listen in from 41 minutes.

Radio Lancashire - Interview