August was a busy month with the start of the new football season and further additions to manager Gary Bowyer’s Blackpool squad.
Gary had immediately pinpointed areas where he felt we needed to strengthen over the summer, with seven new faces arriving prior to the turn of the month. We were keen to recruit early in order for Gary to have as many pieces of the jigsaw in place ahead of pre-season. Gary highlighted the players he wanted to sign, and I negotiated with the players and their representatives to get the deals done.
Transfer deadline day saw the arrival of our final player in goalkeeper Dean Lyness, who had spent a period on loan with the club last season. Dean replaced the outgoing Kyle Letheren who joined York City on a permanent deal. Gary, myself and the back room staff continued to work diligently on potential targets up until the close of the window, however available options on deadline day wouldn’t have further strengthened the squad.
There were outgoing developments around 9pm in the evening though, when I received a call from Dunfermline wanting to take John Herron on loan until January. Cue a mad dash to get the paperwork drafted, signed and submitted before the midnight deadline in Scotland. Everything was submitted and approved with about 20 minutes to spare! Young full-back Macauley Wilson had also gone out on loan to Bamber Bridge days earlier, allowing him to continue his development.
The scrapping of the emergency loan window by FIFA means that all league loans must now run from window to window, however the option to loan out other young players to non-league clubs remains open.
By the close of the transfer window we had brought in 12 new players, a number of whom turned down deals elsewhere to sign for the club.
Away from the pitch, every member of the squad has been out supporting Community Trust projects in the opening weeks of the new season, with visits to sports camps proving extremely popular. Almost 700 children across the Fylde Coast have attended sports camps at three venues, as well as an inclusion camp in St Annes.
We’ve also had Nickelodeon down filming some light-hearted challenges with the players for TV show Nick Kicks. The programme covers all 72 clubs in the EFL and helps bring football outside of the Premier League to a younger audience.
Sticking with youth, Ciaran Donnelly’s side travelled to The Netherlands at the start of August for a pre-season tour funded by Erasmus+, an EU programme for education, training, youth and sport.
In conjunction with the LFE (League Football Education), the trip saw our under-18s train under the guidance of Sparta Rotterdam coaches, visit the Amsterdam Arena and face two under-19 Eredivisie clubs, as well as German side VFL Osnabruck. The highlight of the trip was a last-gasp victory against FC Utrecht’s under-19s.
Due to the tour, the under-18s kicked-off their season slightly later than other youth alliance sides but opened up with a 5-0 win away to Fleetwood Town.
We’ve got nine new scholars in the youth setup this season, with seven of those coming through the club’s academy system. The scholars are now based at Bloomfield Road alongside the first-team and train at Squires Gate, while the academy sides have relocated to training facilities at Myerscough College.
Finally, it was great to welcome Cheung Chi Doy back to Bloomfield Road as a special guest for the match against Plymouth Argyle. Cheung, accompanied by a film crew, hadn’t returned to Blackpool since leaving the club in 1962 so it was fantastic to see him meet up with a few of his ex-team-mates, including club legend Jimmy Armfield.