Pilley: I’d like Fleetwood and Blackpool to stay up

Andy Pilley's loyalties lie well and truely with Fleetwood now
Andy Pilley's loyalties lie well and truely with Fleetwood now

Andy Pilley has described tomorrow’s Fylde coast derby as ‘enormous’ and hopes both clubs can avoid the drop.

The Fleetwood Town chairman grew up as a Blackpool supporter before taking over the reins at Highbury eleven years ago.

Back then the chances of the two clubs meeting were slim but an incredible rise has seen them not only in the same division, but above their once greater rivals.

And while Pilley, leaves no doubt of where his loyalities lie, he’d ideally like both clubs to beat the drop.

“It’s well documented I was a Blackpool supporter for a very long time – probably about 25 years,” revealled Pilley.

“I’ve watched a lot of Blackpool games over the years and they remain the first result I look for after Fleetwood games.

“But this is my day job now and my loyalties lie with Fleetwood beating Blackpool.

“My dream scenario would be for Fleetwood and Blackpool to both stay up.

“The first fixture I looked for this season was the Blackpool game and I’d like that to be the case again next season.

“There’s no great history of the clubs playing each other so this game is a big deal.

“I think if the clubs played each other every season it would become a real event and there would be real rivarly.

“It’s a day everyone on the Fylde should be looking forward to.”

Fleetwood lie two points above the Seasiders in the League One relegation battle, with Neil McDonald’s men occupying the final relegation place.

And Pilley knows just how important a win would be for his side, saying: “I think it’s enormous that Fleetwood get the requried result. We need to say in League One and that’s my one and only priority.”

Highbury will be a total sell-out as it hosts it’s first ever league game against Blackpool, with more than a thousand making the short trip from Blackpool.

Police presence will be high ahead of the game, but Pilley hopes all the talk will be about on the field issues.

“I don’t expect any crowd trouble, I really don’t,” he said.

“I know there are frustations within certain sections of the Blackpool supporters.

“But I hope they’d have more respect than to do anything silly at Highbury.

“I’m sure the game will pass off fine and it will be a great spectacle.”

Defeat for either side would leave them staring relegation in the face with just two games remaining, meaning much more than pride is at stake.

And the Town chairman said it could be bigger than their play-off final win against Burton at Wembley in 2014.

“The same prize is at stake, it’s League One football,” said Pilley.

“The destination may not be Wembley like last time, but it’s a huge game.

“Tomorrow’s game would always have been enormous for the community and the Fylde coast.

“But given the importance of the game now and what is at stake, it’s extra large now.

“I’m sure people will be licking the lips at the prospect of the game and taking in what will be a memorable game for years to come.”

Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley described tomorrow’s game as ‘massive’ and insisted the players won’t need any reminding of the importance.

And while chairman Pilley isn’t one to get involved in the football side of things, he admitted he might give them the odd nudge - give the chance.

He said: “I’ve never spoken to the players about football in all my eleven years, so I won’t be now.

“If I see them in the corridors I may remind them of the importance.

“I’m not someone who goes into the changing rooms, I don’t think I’ll ever do that.

“You have to let managers manage and I am happy to let Steven do his job.”

It’s been an incredible rise for Pilley since he took over the club eleven years ago, with six promotions making for an incredible rise to where they are today.

For the first time in the chairman’s time at the club relegation is a real threat, although a win tomorrow would all but see them safe.

And Pilley is hoping that’s the case, adding: “Our graph has been a steady diagonal line upwards but I suppose in football you aren’t going to get that forever.

“Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards but we desperately want to remain in League One - I’m confident we will.”

Tomorrow’s game has been long circled on the calendar of Fleetwood Town’s supporters, with many suggesting for a while it could play a key role in the relegation battle.

While it adds further spice to the game, Pilley hopes his side can take a hueg leap forward.

“When we were all at the wrong end of the table as the season progressed I knew there was always going to be a chance it could come down to this,” he said.

“I hoped we would get the job done and wouldn’t be in this position.

“I think we are still in a favourable position in terms of points and goal difference, but that will count for nothing if we are beaten tomorrow.

“If Blackpool win tomorrow that puts them in the driving seat.”

Fleetwood go into the game on the back of a defeat at Millwall on Tuesday night, although once again they were left ruing missed chances.

It’s something which has become a theme of Town’s recent games, and something Pilley hopes is behind them.

“I’m still scratching my head wondering how we didn’t get anything on Tuesday night at Millwall,” he said.

“It was yet another game where we were easily good value for a point.

“It’s fine margins at the moment but ultimately it’s about getting points.

“At the moment we don’t have enough to be safe.

“There have been so many games this season where we haven’t got what we deserved.

“There’s been too many games like that, but we can’t keep saying we were the better team.