Writer: Eamonn Moore
Date:Tuesday November 17 2009
So the clubs motto goes. The progress on the pitch is without question.
Blackpool have recently occupied their highest league position for 30+ years. Let's not forget that less than 10 years ago we were in the basement league and trips to Kidderminster, Halifax York & Mansfield were the fare of the day. The current team has 9 players who have played for their respective countries at the senior level and the football is both exciting and enjoyable to watch. There never seems to be a dull day when Holloway's around, but can the progress off the pitch keep pace with that on it?
The South has finally begun to take shape. I think everyone knew that once the seats were in the services and infrastructure would take the time but it`s there and sometime in the near future it will be open.
Now I estimate that the current 1900 away fans capacity that will be relocated to the North, along with adding an extra 100 seat loss for segregation means that the 3000 seats in the Armfield stand will actually equate to an additional 1000 home fans being required to fill the ground to home capacity (assuming the gene Kelly remains unopened).
Other than the Newcastle + imminent Knobbers game, the home seats haven't sold out so far this season which when you consider the position of the club is surprising.
Can we fill the extra capacity that the fans shouted & screamed they wanted for so long, and what can the club do attract more fans?
Personally I think the off the field promotion of the club is poor. I've no doubt that there are individuals who do work hard within the club but as a business, and that's what our beloved Chairman has said Blackpool FC are, I would look to employ somebody new, specifically to raise the off the pitch profile.
I know the club have tried to improve the off field PR, the webcam kept us entertained for a couple of months and the daily blog on the net has gone a little way to letting us know what's happening but there's still a lot of scope for improvement.
Lapsed & Potential Fans
I think the majority of fans are against the Quid a Kid scheme, despite this probably being the easiest way to get bums on seats. Local youngsters are the potential fans for the future. A few years ago the club gave away a free home shirt to youngsters on their birthday, now I know of 1 lad who was so chuffed he got his mum and dad to take him to a game. The result of the £30 retail cost shirt? 3 season ticket holders who now attend away games too. There must be others who have a similar story.
I don't live in Blackpool, I never have but I still see the same people, who as kids like me travelled from Lancaster to the match 30-40 years ago. Exiles make up a hefty proportion of the crowd on match days and as such it's the local drifting support who should be targeted to fill the extra spaces.
In Holloway we have a manager who actively seeks media attention, he loves the limelight and we should make full use of this. Can we honestly say that we've never had as much media attention in the last 30 years, since his appointment?
I don't know how much a decent sized advert in the Gazette costs, but surely the club could make better use of the local media to try and inform the local population of what games are coming up. Whether it is the local papers or local radio (I've never heard an advert for us on Rock FM but I've heard plenty for other clubs) the club have to try and reach out to increase awareness of the good things going on at the club.
Drifting by supporters and day trippers find it virtually impossible to get a ticket on the day, casual fans are faced with the prospect of buying in to the membership scheme. For one off visitors or passers by the scheme is a non starter. It has been voiced that the scheme has put a lot of casual fans off from coming to games. I cannot see how the scheme has financially benefited the club more than the lost fans who haven't come to games because of it.
The scheme must be reviewed and it's continuation given serious consideration.
There have been suggestions of reduced entry to fans via a voucher of a season ticket holder (Bring a Mate), half a season - season tickets (out in time for Xmas), buy 3 tickets get the 4th free etc, again all of which appear feasible to fans but not to the club.
Season ticket sales guarantee cash in the coffers upfront. Norwich are a good example of how to gain extra STH's. A season ticket bought over 6 months for Blackpool incurs an extra cost of £57+ (for M Block), per ticket. Norwich begin their scheme in March of the year and offer an interest free opportunity to buy a ST over a longer period of time, thus reducing the monthly associated cost to the fan. If they can do it, why can't we?
I was amazed that the club finally managed to listen to the fans and get the new seasons shirt on sale before the summer break, I have no doubt that the number of shirts sold in the first 6 months since the introduction of the new kit far outweigh the number sold previously following a kit launch. However even this initiative wasn't without an own goal, fans found it easier to buy from JD online than wait for stock to arrive in the club shop.
How many people actually buy the Blackpool FC golf tee sets or the Blackpool FC watches? Following a meeting with the club several years ago they have finally managed to produce a club crest for the back of the car window, how did they advertise it? With a hand written scrawled note pinned on the door with a blurred image of the crest, why not simply put a crest on the door window with a typed note saying "Available Now - £.."
If the club ever wanted to know how easy it was to make money for the club from merchandise use the sale of badges via the main message boards as a yardstick.
Charlie Adam - our most current popular player - is there a Charlie Adam mug available for people to buy? T-shirts with a witty slogan? I hoped after the £000's lost after the Wembley fiasco the club would have learned their lesson, clearly this still isn't the case.
Advertising & Sponsorship
I don't think I can ever remember a season where so many players don't have a kit sponsor. I genuinely believe that the club presume that business is just going to come to them rather than the club going to look for it.
We are now an established Championship club, the players are doing it on the pitch, it's time the club stepped up to the plate and did it off the pitch too.
Date:Tuesday November 17 2009
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