Blackpool are preparing to face Arsenal in the Youth Cup semi-final

The present is gloomy at Blackpool, but the future could be bright.

On Tuesday, the Tangerines face Arsenal in the first leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final, attempting to become the first third-tier side for 30 years to reach the final.

They have won five away games to reach the last four, and beaten three clubs with category one academies – the highest status.

It is a fine achievement, made more remarkable because it comes against the backdrop of ongoing unrest at the club that means many long-standing fans will refuse to go to Bloomfield Road for Tuesday’s match.

Instead, they will be meeting the Football League as the latest move in their attempt to get Blackpool’s owners, the Oyston family, out of the club.

‘A real fairytale’

Blackpool were beaten in the first round of last season’s FA Youth Cup. Twelve months on they won at Bradford and Doncaster before overcoming West Ham and, in their only tie at home so far, Southampton. That match was played in front of 223 people.

Further victories at Ipswich and Blackburn