Blackpool face tough summer

Date published: Thursday 21st May 2015 3:20

If it sounds like a familiar tale, that’s because it is.

Last summer the club were in an almost identical situation, except only six contracted players were on the books ahead of pre-season.  Almost a year on, and following relegation from the Championship, the club will have to go through that process again. 

Outgoing manager Lee Clark took the decision to release 17 members of the squad, before walking away from the club himself; and the most high-profile player to leave has told Sky Sports News HQ that he feels sorry for those left behind.

There’s no question of Peter Clarke’s affection for Blackpool, where he has spent three spells as a player.  But having moved back to Bloomfield Road almost a year ago he knows only too well what the remaining players have in store come July. 

He was recruited in a haphazard pre-season where former manager Jose Riga was forced to fill in the blanks as friendly matches were cancelled.  By the time the first game against Nottingham Forest came around Riga had a squad of 15 available.  Blackpool were beaten, and eight months later they were preparing for life in League One.

“It’s a case of deja vu,” Clarke told Sky Sports News HQ, “it’s not a good base for any manager going in there.  In one sense they’ve got a blank canvas to work with, but at the same time anyone who does go in there is going to want to make inroads into recruitment and it’s going to be difficult.”

A veteran of more than 550 career appearances Clarke was released despite being a near ever-present for Blackpool this season.  He’s lifting the lid on what he downplays as a “tough” season for the Seasiders spent battling against the tide. 

Set against the backdrop of basic training facilities, supporter protests and everyone having to wash their own kit – more than 50 different players represented the club at one point or another during the ill-fated campaign.  As it stands only seven are guaranteed to return from the summer break.

And having been let go, the defender admits his thoughts are with those still under contract as he said: “Of course you have sympathy with them, it’s a tough environment to be in.  It was challenging and you had to play the deal you were dealt. The sooner players learnt that the better. Some perhaps didn’t and fell by the wayside, while performances probably suffered.”

Clarke is now looking for a new chapter in his own playing career, although he admits the pressure to find a new footballing family is increased by trying to look after his own. 

“It’s one of the hazards of the job.  Your main priority is finding a new club and supporting your family, paying the bills and putting food on the table,” he said.

At 33 years old he knows it’s got to be the right offer for himself and his four children, and although he wants to stay in the Championship it could mean looking into Leagues One or Two, “I’m waiting for the phone to ring,” he says with a smile, “sometimes I wonder if it’s out of signal!”

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