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Peter Clarke sorry for those left behind in Blackpool rebuild

Blackpool face another summer of uncertainty, with relegation to League One and a host of players needed to fill a threadbare squad, reports Ben Ransom.

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!”

Headlines for Blackpool this week

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  • Peter Clarke sorry for those left behind in Blackpool rebuild

  • Blackpool face another summer of uncertainty, with relegation to League One and a host of players needed to fill a threadbare squad, reports Ben Ransom.

  • Blackpool charged by Football Association after Championship invasion

  • Blackpool have been charged by the Football Association following the pitch invasion against Huddersfield Town earlier this month.

  • Peter Clarke heads Blackpool exodus

  • Blackpool quartet Peter Clarke, David Perkins, Nathan Delfouneso and Steven Davies are among a total of 17 players released by the club.

  • Blackpool charged by the FA for failing to fulfil Huddersfield fixtures

  • The Football League has charged Blackpool for failing to fulfil their fixture against Huddersfield on the final day of the season.

  • Nile Ranger amazed to learn Blackpool want him to stay on

  • Nile Ranger has reacted with surprise at his contract with Blackpool being extended for a further year.

  • Blackpool manager Lee Clark resigns as manager of relegated club

  • Blackpool manager Lee Clark has resigned following the club's relegation from the Championship to League One.

  • Blackpool to sign Blyth Spartans winger Jarrett Rivers

  • Blackpool have made their first signing of the summer already by agreeing a deal with Blyth Spartans winger Jarrett Rivers.

  • O'Hara says relegated Blackpool must invest in staff

  • Blackpool midfielder Jamie O'Hara says the club needs to invest in their staff if they want to bounce back following their relegation to League One.

  • Blackpool's clash with Huddersfield will not be restarted or replayed

  • The Football League has confirmed Blackpool's season-ending Championship clash with Huddersfield will not be restarted or replayed.

  • Blackpool supporters protest abandons match against Huddersfield

  • Angry Blackpool fans invaded the pitch in protest against the club's Oyston family owners which caused their final Championship game of the season against Huddersfield to be abandoned after 48 minutes.

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