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An update on the ambitious plans for a training ground, as well as news on when season tickets will go on sale were the main topics discussed during Tuesday’s Structured Dialogue meeting.
The club were also asked about their longer-term plans for a new east stand at Bloomfield Road.
Owner Simon Sadler (SS) joined via video link, while board members Ben Mansford (BM) and Brett Gerrirty (BG) attended.
Here’s a look at what was discussed, as revealed by club minutes…
SS: We are very close to an announcement and spent some time this week writing a press release about it.
BM: We have an agreed contract and are awaiting a signature for it. We don’t want to announce anything so positive until everything has been agreed and signed.
BM: Most supporters will know that together with Blackpool Council we applied for funding for a municipal deal – known as upgrade funding. We have successfully secured funding of £6.5m, which can be used to enable the project to progress. The actual construction of the stand and everything that happens on the footprint will be the responsibility of the club and Simon. Some progress towards the back of the North Stand car park where the housing site is located will be seen in the coming weeks and we are able to start work on this area. We now need to finalize the plans for the stand and what we should and shouldn’t put there. We need to make a planning application for this, which may require the acquisition of land behind the East Stand. The timing of any announcement is difficult on this because of how the process may unfold with some of these lands that need to be acquired. We will try and
finalize our plans for the East Stand and seek to apply for planning as soon as possible. We have until March 2026 to access the £6.5m funding.
SS: You’re probably looking at £2,500-3,000 per seat, which if for example we build a 5,000 seater stand would cost £15m, so you’re looking at a major investment. We want to make sure the stadium is developed properly, and that includes better access for disabled fans. In the end, we just want to finish the stadium. We may be five years old, but we just want to do it and do it right as soon as possible.
SS: It’s no secret that there are two big capital investment projects the club plan to undertake – the training ground and the redevelopment of the east stand. Conservatively, the cost of these will be £30m, and those numbers are rising all the time. That’s the main goal, and the club won’t spend big transfer fees as long as there are those investments to be made. This will help ensure the long-term viability of the club. I am committed to investing and will lend the money to the club and hope to get some or all of it back in the future. It’s up to all of us fans to contribute where we can, whether it’s retail, ticket sales, sponsorship, etc. Hopefully, the club will also become a beneficiary of the redistribution of funds through the football pyramid in the future.
Promotion to the Premier League
SS: We don’t think we should bet to get into the Premier League in order to generate revenue to pay for infrastructure investment. We must continue to improve year after year on the pitch, as we have done so far. We have to maintain our position in the Championship and then if the wind is blowing in the right direction then there is a chance that we can do it, but we have a better chance of reaching the Premier League and staying there with the infrastructure in place. , which we will continue to work towards.
BM: Aware that a number of clubs are already on sale with 2022/23 subscriptions, but the club wants to take the time to make the best possible decisions and as such has waited for the club to appoint the new finance manager which started last week. The club is working on the digital side of things with a new website, single sign-on capability which will include ticketing, retail, Tangerine TV, and more. An announcement on the subscription pricing structure will be released in a few days. We hope to be on sale with subscriptions in the next 7-10 days. It’s been quite a remarkable season overall considering what the team has achieved and hopefully we can progress on the 8,000 ST holders from 2021/22.
SS: Confirms introduction of 18-21 category after listening to fan feedback.
BM: After listening to feedback, the club has decided to remove the ABC categorization model and will introduce a membership model. A standard ticket will cost £30, but if supporters buy a £15 adult subscription for the season, they’ll get a £5 discount on every home game they attend. This means an adult ticket will cost £25, which is a similar price structure to when the club competed in the Championship 10 years ago.
Outside fans exiting the East Stand
BM: I have been working hard with Lancashire Police and Lancashire Council to improve stadium exit plans. We hope these plans will alleviate any evacuation issues from the southeast corner and northeast corner. We are continuing with this and will try to implement an improved release for the start of the new season.
BM: We are in good shape and have an attractive schedule to look forward to. There is still some paperwork to complete, but we will announce it once everything is finalized.
BM: A decision made by John Stephenson, Neil Critchley and Ciaran Donnelly was made with our blessing to return to a reserve team league. We will enter the Central League, which should give them around 10 more games.