Feb. 14, 2021

Goodbye and thanks, Christine!

Goodbye and thanks, Christine!

This is a post to say thanks for everything to Christine Seddon as she steps down from her role of Chairman at the Blackpool Supporters Trust.  The following tribute was written by Robbie Whittaker.

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I first met Christine when the new North Stand opened, and she and her Mother were sat two or three seats away from me. She impressed me from the very start with her eloquence ; when BST were looking for a Parliamentary candidate to stand in the 2015 General Election I urged her to put herself forward. But Andy Higgins got that gig, and she went a different route, via Radio Lancs to become the Voice of BST. She was an inspired choice.

Lots of people were angry then. But whereas most felt powerless to do anything about the predicament that the club was in, Christine was one of a small band who thought differently. She has a rare ability to channel her emotions into effective action ; and boy, was she effective.

It quickly became apparent that if BST was to get regime change at Bloomfield Road, then it needed to take an unorthodox path. With a few honourable exceptions (fans of Everton, Coventry, Leyton Orient, Charlton, among others), there were few people to turn to for help. The EFL should have been the first port of call ; but under Shaun Harvey they were a study in inaction, and worse.

Christine was undaunted. She was the figurehead as BST took the fight to the airwaves (where her unusual ability to speak at length without breathing was a godsend), to the quality press, and even into Parliament. The Belokon court case came at exactly the right time, and again, Christine and her closest allies were able to ensure that every word of the court proceedings in London was reported back to the people with the biggest vested interest of all - the fans back at home. Not only that, but the surreal story told there was used at every turn to embarrass the football authorities and pile up the moral pressure for change.

That change was slow coming - but come it did. Christine led BST and the fans as a whole into a new challenge ; helping the interim Board and eventually the new owners in the massive job of transforming Blackpool FC from basket case to normality.

I very much doubt that Christine ever saw herself becoming a national figure, or a talisman. But her highly visible leadership locally quickly translated into a prominent role at the Football Supporters Association (FSA). To say that she is well regarded there is a massive understatement - she won the coveted Jacqui Forster Award in 2019, was quickly elected to the National Council and topped the poll in their latest elections at the end of last year. Plenty of clubs have been in trouble since we were ; several more may join them before very long. Christine has championed their causes just as she did our own, has acted as mentor to the fans of clubs that asked her to, and continues to make the case for wholesale regulatory reform with the same passion and clarity that she did when all this started.

I’ve worked closely with her for the best part of six years, one way or another. I knew from the outset that she was very effective with the media. What I have learned over time is that she is immensely dedicated. Very few people know how much time the BST Committee give up to act as an advocate for us all, locally and nationally, and Christine has always been prepared to give up entire weekends, and many midweek nights to promote our interests. Those constant matchday vigils outside the West Stand are well known ; but they were just the tip of the iceberg for her.

Just as impressive was her ability to change seamlessly from fans activist into a much more supportive role after Simon Sadler took ownership of the club. It was probably a relief to her to be able to wholeheartedly endorse what was going on inside the club, and to offer constructive challenge and support at last.

Dedication and application are very valuable. But there is much more to Christine than that. She is a born leader, and a very good strategist. This latter quality was immensely helpful when dealing with the complex and very difficult world of football politics. It continues to serve her well as a prominent figure in the FSA, and I’m very glad that BST will continue to benefit from her wisdom and her judgement.

if I had to pick one quality that sets her apart though, it would be her uncompromising integrity. She wears her principles on her sleeve, and sets a standard that colleagues can’t help but aspire to meet. I can’t think of anyone I have met in my adult life who I have respected more ; Blackpool fans everywhere are very lucky that she is within our ranks.

Robbie Whittaker

And there's more...

We did a brief interview with Christine at the start of our latest podcast "Half time", where we aksed her the following questions:

  1. Why are you leaving?

  2. Are you going to fulfill any role in BST in the future?

  3. What have you enjoyed most about your involvement with BST?

  4. What have been the highlights for you in being involved in BST, and also as chair?

  5. And the low lights?

  6. Your hopes for the future for BST and BFC

You can watch the interview on the video recording below: