It’s the end of the Tangerine dream for Blackpool

By All Blue Daze.

In 2010, the German electronic rock group, Tangerine Dream, released a song called ‘The Endless Season’. Sadly, Blackpool’s season is now over after they were relegated with six games to go, ending the Tangerines’ Championship dream.

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Back in May 2010, I happened to be on a stag weekend for a work colleague’s impending wedding. As is the way of such things, we ended up in a pub – or three. In one, they were showing the Championship play-off final as Blackpool defeated Cardiff City 3-2 to gain promotion to English football’s top flight for the first time in nearly four decades. It was a cracking game; and many of us sat and watched the match. Blackpool have always been a bit of a Cinderella story: a smaller club that lived the dream of promotion to the Premier League.

The following season, under Ian Holloway’s ‘individualistic’ approach to management, the club became so many fans’ second favourite team as they battled, with an attacking brand of football, against almost inevitable relegation. For much of the season, it seemed that they could perform the seemingly impossible by staying up. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

The fact that they lost out on the last day of the season hardly diminished their standing in many football fans’ affections. Since then, however, the tale has been one of decline and discord – to the extent that they have now been relegated to League One after Rotherham beat Brighton on Monday. It spells bad news for the club with the Premier League parachute payments ending in the close season. How low have they fallen? No team has finished a 24-club Championship season with less than 26 points. After Tuesday’s draw with Reading, Blackpool have 25 points, after Bolton cruelly denied the Tangerines a victory with a late equaliser at the weekend. With upcoming games against Derby and Ipswich, the supporters are fully experiencing rock bottom.

Despite apparently turning a healthy profit in their last submitted accounts, the club waited until a court summons arrived last month before clearing an overdue rates bill of £221 from Fylde Council on the training ground at Squires Gate – a location Holloway described as a “hellhole”. The much-maligned payday loan company Wonga has chosen not to renew its sponsorship of the club; and owner Karl Oyston has recently been granted an extension of time to answer a FA charge regarding a text message exchange in which he called a fan a “massive retard”. Oyston and his father Owen are also suing the Back Henry Street forum website over six alleged cases of defamation, seeking £150,000 in damages. All is clearly not well behind the scenes at Bloomfield Road, but things are even worse on the pitch.

Manager Lee Clark took the reins after being dismissed by Birmingham City, and although the club were at the foot of the table when he arrived to take over from Jose Riga, he admits to massively underestimating the situation. He told the Blackpool Gazette earlier this month: “I knew the team were bottom of the table and struggling, but I was probably met with other things you don’t see when you come in from the outside.”

Blackpool have currently won a mere four games all season and have a goal difference of -48. Chairman Oyston has been laying low since the turn of the year, and has refused to speak publicly on the club’s plight, thus thrusting his manager into an unwanted spotlight. But he’ll have to answer soon to the disgruntled fans who protested against the owners during the Reading tie.

It surely has to be questionable whether Clark – or any other manager, for that matter – has the walking boots tough enough for this particular trek back from League One. For now, it really is the end of the Tangerines’ Championship dream.


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