I dropped an email to the Blackpool Fans’ Progress Group (FPG) last week.

The FPG responded within a couple of days. I’m grateful to them for responding so fast.

The FPG are a strange beast. Three of the four people on the initial selection panel withdrew from the selection process. The club’s staff personally selected the twelve people who eventually joined the group. Four of the initial twelve members quit after a single meeting with the chairman, Karl Oyston.

As you will see in this email exchange the FPG currently has 6 (six) members

By contrast there are nearly 2000 (two thousand) members of the Blackpool Supporters Trust. If you don’t know why Blackpool has a supporters trust then this may help.

I’ll share my own thoughts on the email exchange with the FPG within a day or so but I thought it useful to share their response in full and with minimal commentary at first.

An exchange with the FPG

Hi FPG,

hope you’re keeping well.

Can I ask a few questions? I’d appreciate a reply by the end of the week if that’s possible? Do let me know if not and when you will be able to answer by.

Hi Peter,

We have tried to answer your questions as best we can, answers are below against each of your questions in {italic} text.

Just to be clear the members of the FPG have not benefited in anyway from our membership, we have not benefited from any use of the hospitality box, nor in any other way. We pay the cost of the hire of a room away from Bloomfield Road for our our meetings, and have paid for our own website and anything else that needs to be paid for. We only use Bloomfield Road when we have met with the club for our quarterly meetings. As we have said before we are a supporters liaison group that is truly independent of the football club and its owners.

In response to your final comment “To be clear I intend to publish any answers in the spirit of creating a more transparent and open debate about Blackpool FC”, we’d like to draw your attention the Email signature below (*) as we take supporter confidentiality seriously. However we have no objection to you using the answers provided below but would hope that you use them in a way that ensures your debate is fair and balanced, and not solely used to discredit the FPG.

I’m interested to know what your view is to the announcement of a meeting invite to all main supporter groups with the club. I listened to Christine Seddon of the BST on radio Lancs describe it as an invite to meet the FPG which is wholly incorrect, yes we will be there and can meet each other. Understandably some are skeptical about the meeting intent but what some seem to be missing is that it is an opportunity for all groups including the FPG to question Karl Oyston further and seek answers regardless of their pre-conceptions.

1. In this posting on your site you provide an opinion on the club/Oyston’s position on legal action against fans. I cannot find this position on the club’s website. If a fan was to follow your opinion but still face legal action form the club/Oystons would you be willing to take responsibility?

This information is provided in good faith based upon our understanding of information received from Karl Oyston, the wording was confirmed as accurate by Karl before publication, however fans are advised to check with the club first. The FPG cannot accept any liability for any loss or damages sustained or for any legal action taken by Blackpool FC, its owners or others. If a fan has concern about this perhaps they should raise it through their supporter group that they may be a member of at the 10th March meeting with the club. This amnesty was referred to in the clubs news release on its website 6th Feb 2016, which states :

“A report on legal actions, both civil and CPS/Police initiated, will also be on the agenda. The club will confirm its intention not to commence any further legal action, other than that relating to the pitch invasions, where a limited number of individuals have been contacted and further small number of individuals are currently being identified with the assistance of Lancashire Police.

The club has offered an amnesty, via the FPG, to the vast majority of those individuals involved in the pitch protests on 2 May 2015 and 11 July 2015. This is subject to all those involved accepting the amnesty and attending the club to sign an acceptable behaviour order”.

2. In this posting on the Blackpool FC site it refers to “Iain Tarpey’s attendance at the club’s last board meeting.”. When was this board meeting? Who was present? When do you intend to publish your notes from the meeting?

The meeting was held mid December, all board members were present in person or via conference call, along with our own chairman. The minutes have not yet been issued, but given BFC Ltd is a private company the FPG has no control over the release of board meeting minutes, particularly if they contain commercially sensitive information, consequently we are not in a position to comment on the meeting, unless the club gives permission for us to release any minutes once issued.

3. In this posting on your site you discuss the club’s hospitality box. How many times have the FPG had access to a hospitality box? How many, and which, members of the FPG were in the hospitality box on each day? What was the value of any hospitality provided by the club to the FPG members in the box? Did those FPG members pay for match day tickets?

No member of the FPG benefited from the use of this box, nor watched any matches from it. The box was provided by the club for the FPG to donate to local charities, a member of the FPG went to meet the persons using the box to say hello, take some photo’s and make sure they were all OK, then returned to their own season ticket seat to watch the match. The value of the box is unknown and irrelevant to us. This box is a genuine gesture on behalf of the club in response to our request for the club to donate a box for one match to a local charity, the club did this but extended its offer for all remaining home games of the season. Players will also be making visits to the box to meet the charity users for photo’s and sign autographs etc.

4. According to this report in the Gazette the FPG have confirmed their attendance at a meeting with the club on March 10th. Which members plan to attend?

We have not confirmed to anyone that we will be attending, be cautious of what is written including AVFTT. However it is our intention to attend and we will reply to the club in due coarse, we have yet to decide upon who will be attending. We hope that the supporter groups accept the clubs invitation and attend, they all have the opportunity to place their own issues on the meeting agenda. This is not a “meet the FPG evening”, but an opportunity for all groups (including the FPG) to ask questions of Karl Oyston directly and seek answers etc.

5. Can I ask when and where you intend to hold your first open meeting to hear the views of Blackpool fans?

Yet to be decided, although we receive many views and opinions from supporters like yourself via Email or our website contact form, and those supporters we talk to both at matches and elsewhere and those we known personally. The FPG isn’t a fee paying members group, but more of an independent supporters liaison group. Remember we are barely 6 months old and are still in the early stages of evolving.

6. The names of current FPG members does not appear to be on your website. Can I ask what they are?

There is no particular reason why not, nor is this dissimilar from the BST or BSA, however names were made public via our first press release which was published in the Gazette and the clubs website before we established our own. Anyone who has asked for them has been given this info.

Current members are : Iain Tarpey, Terry Greenhow, Peter Wadeson, Ron Matthews, Rachel Haines and Nick Bell

To be clear I intend to publish any answers in the spirit of creating a more transparent and open debate about Blackpool FC.

All the best,

Peter

Additional note: at this point I would like to rem that

(*) the email signature is very formal. It says:

The content of this message and any attached file(s) are private and confidential and Without Prejudice and / or privileged and are for the named recipient only, re-transmission, dissemination, copying, or disclosure of this Email and it’s contents onto others not listed by the sender, whether electronically, printed or verbally, is strictly prohibited unless prior approved by the sender. If you are not the named recipient, any unauthorised review, use, re-transmission, dissemination, copying, disclosure or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon this information is strictly prohibited. If you receive this message in error please contact the sender immediately and delete this Email from your system. Any attachment with this message should be checked for viruses before it is opened. The sender shall not be held responsible for any failure or loss by the recipient who should test for viruses before opening any Email or attachments. Should you communicate with the sender by Email you consent to the sender reading and forward communicating any such correspondence. Any information provided in this Email is provided in good faith, supporters should not take any action in reliance upon it and are advised to check with the Blackpool FC and/or its owners or others first. The FPG cannot accept any liability for any loss or damages sustained or for any action taken by Blackpool FC, its owners or others. Opening and reading this Email confirms your acceptance of these terms and conditions. As a Blackpool FC supporter who has contacted the FPG you have been added to the FPG’s mailing list, should you wish to unsubscribe from this mailing list, please send a return Email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject field.