Blackpool FC: The Tangerine dream 
A delighted Blackpool supporter celebrates 2010 promotion to the top flight 
(Photo by Mike Hewitt via Getty Images)

Blackpool is known for being a popular seaside town, with amenities plentiful - from the beach promenade, to the soaring tower and the tallest rollercoaster in the UK. 

For the football club of the town, a rollercoaster ride is the best way to describe the past decade, as the club plummeted from the Premier League to Sky Bet League Two in just five years. 
 

A decade since top flight relegation 

On-the-day of confirming their spot in this seasons League One play-off final, it also marked the 10 year anniversary of Blackpool's final day relegation from the top-flight. After a plethora of high court battles, relegations, protests and decline since then, the troubled and dark times are slowly fading, as the club prepare for a Wembley date on Sunday 30th May. 

After dispatching Oxford United comfortably over two legs - in a 6-3 victory, the mood among the Tangerines is joyous right now, and rightfully so, with Blackpool facing Lincoln City in a duel for the golden ticket into the second tier. 

If promotion is sealed, it would be the first time the club have played in the Championship since the catastrophic season of 2014/15, where they accumulated a measly 26 points over the campaign. 

The nosedive into the third tier came four years after relegation from the Premier League - which was the start of a crumbling relationship (which never re-railed) between the fans and then owner of the club, Karl Oyston

Blackpool received upwards of £80 million when they were promoted to the Premier League, and fans were infuriated that they saw none of that money reinvested in the Championship, to help try guide the club back to the top flight of English football. 
 

Struggles on and off the pitch 

The Seasiders' fifth placed finish in 2011/12 and defeat in the play-off final would be the start of a slippery slope in which they could never have imagined. 

Blackpool fell to 15th the following season, and the downward trajectory continued into 2013/14 campaign when the club placed 20th, in what was a nervy season tinkering above the dotted line for survival in the second tier. 
 

Reports began circulating that Oyston had paid his father £11 million, paid £650,000 for land behind the Bloomfield Road stadium, and also shifted a whopping £26 million into family owned companies. 

With money available, but nothing to show for it, fans' frustrations continued to mount, and with frustration, came protests from fans for Mr Oyston and his family to leave the club. 

However, it wasn't just the fans that didn't see eye to eye with Oyston. New Belgian boss - Jose Riga, was appointed ahead of the 2013/14 campaign and remarkably refused to speak to the media for 44 days, in a staff blackout, following a dispute over transfer dealings. 

Despite it being a crazy move from Riga, very few can blame him after what can only be described as the job opening from hell. The club cancelled their summer pre-season tour to Spain, played just two friendlies, and with less than a month until kick-off, had seven players registered on the books after a staggering number of exits from Bloomfield Road. 

Riga was relieved from his duties as manager after just 14 league matches, with the Belgian accumulating just one win in that time. 

Lee Clark stepped into the hot seat, but was unable to guide the sinking ship to safety, as the Seasiders concluded the campaign with four victories, 26 points and a shameful winless run of 18 matches, to bow out of the Championship. 

Just five years after preparing for life in the promised land of the Premier League, Blackpool were now gearing up for third-tier football. 

An abandoned pre-season friendly, due to angry protesters, saw the Seasiders first action of the 2015/16 campaign postponed against Lancaster City. However, the following five matches installed some hope and optimism, as Blackpool remained unbeaten in pre season. 

The prospect of being competitive in League One and mounting a fight to return to the Championship was quickly relinquished, following a barren start that saw them pick up just one point from their opening five league matches. 

The conclusion of the season unfortunately mirrored the opening of the campaign for Pool, who went five matches winless and were condemned to back-to-back relegations. 

The club finished 22nd and would prepare for life in League Two, which is the basement division of the EFL

Blackpool bounced straight back, with promotion at the first time of asking - via the play-offs. A dramatic 3-1 final day victory over Leyton Orient saw them clinch the final play-off spot and wins against both Luton Town and Exeter City, restored pride amongst the fans, who had very little to cheer, following years of gloom. 

The play-off final victory confirmed a fourth win in five previous appearances in the four team duel, however, despite promotion - it was like no other. 

With the adverse relationship between the supporters and the Oyston family rumbling on, Blackpool fans opted to boycott the Wembley final against Exeter, with an attendance of just 23,380, which covers just over 25% of the huge English national stadium. 

For the three years prior to the current day, Blackpool have consolidated a solid mid table position in the third tier, however, it was the news in November 2017 - months after promotion from League Two, that the fans had been longing to hear. 

After a long high court dispute regarding the £26 million invested into Oyston companies, Karl and father Owen Oyston were found to have 'Illegitimately stripped' Blackpool Football Club and following the judgement, the club was put up for sale. 
 

On the up

In June 2019, Seasiders supporters wishes were fulfilled - an owner with good intentions, links to the town of Blackpool, and a plan to move the club forward. 

Simon Sadler took a 96.2% stake, and as a lifelong supporter of the club, things seemingly from the outside looked positive. 

In his first season at the helm of the club, the COVID-19 global pandemic ensued, and after just 35 games the League One season was curtailed, with no more action to be resumed. 

The club were sat in 13th, however, this season Blackpool have enjoyed a meteoric rise up the division and have surprised everyone with a third placed finish - heading into the play-offs as the form team. 

The return of supporters following the May 17th government plan has allowed excited fans back into Bloomfield Road to watch seasonal stars such as Jerry Yates, Luke Garbett and Sully Kaikai - just to name a few. 

Blackpool have been in scintillating form since February, losing just three matches and are the favourites heading into the eagerly anticipated final against Lincoln. 

The Imps have accumulated the most points on their travels this campaign and will be looking to continue their own rise up the English footballing pyramid on the penultimate day of May. 

After plummeting down the divisions in 'The Big One' rollercoaster fashion, the spirit and love for the squad of players, ownership and football as a whole has returned to the town of Blackpool. 

After financial unease, marches, boycotts and just seven professional players - Blackpool Football Club can look forward a date at Wembley, which if all ends well could end their Championship hiatus and showcase the progression that the club by the seaside has built. 

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