By Kevin Koczwara
Blackpool made its triumphant return to England’s top league with a bang after 39 years of dwelling in the lower league. The Seasiders’ thrashed Wigan Athletic, 4-0, at home to open their Premier League season. To say the least, it was an unexpected result but a welcomed surprise for most.
To say Blackpool FC is a small club in the Premier League is an understatement. The Tangerines’ home ground, Bloomfield Road, has a meager capacity of 12,555 seats — the stadium is in a remodeling phase and the club will add 5,000 or so seats in the future, many of which have already been added.
Why are attendance numbers important for clubs in the Premier League? The higher the attendance the better the team does financially, which means more cash to throw at the world’s best players. That isn’t to say many teams around the world with short finances do not possess some of the best talent in the world, many players get their start at a club like Blackpool whether on loan or otherwise. But to stay in the top-flight or even make it into the top division of English football, teams need top talent, and talent costs money, something Blackpool doesn’t have bundles of.
Despite the long odds against them, Blackpool set out and beat up on a team that could be in the relegation battle come Spring with the Tangerines. Wigan Athletic fought off relegation last year after a disappointing season, and it looks to be doing the same this year as the club has not made any real marquee transfers in the summer to improve the squad and lost to Blackpool in horrific fashion.
For the Seasiders, the win is huge. Their first in England’s top-division in 39 years, and only 28 years after they finished 21st in England’s lowest division. The 4-0 thrashing is a quick high for the club’s fans and players, but Seasiders’ manager, Ian Halloway, has a levelheaded approach, something the club and fans will need plenty of. He isn’t looking at the win over Wigan as more than a win. Yes, it was convincing, but this will not happen weekly in one the world’s top divisions for the underdogs.
If the club is to be successful it will need to follow Halloway’s lead, stay focused and not get too big-headed while getting a few points here and there against its closest competitors, like Wigan, in what should be an interesting relegation battle come spring. To survive this season in the Premier League and stave off relegation should be enough for Seasiders’ fans to rejoice, but if the club doesn’t, they will always have opening weekend to look back on as a high from the 2010-11 season in England’s top flight.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.