‘It is time to go.’
That is the emphatic verdict of furious Blackpool FC fans to the Oyston family as the curtain fell on a season of shame at Bloomfield Road. Mounting anger aimed at the club’s directors culminated in the final match of a dismal season being called off after hundreds of supporters swarmed on to the pitch and refused to leave.
And fans said there was “civil war” at Bloomfield Road as calls for the Oystons to step down amid a season of catastrophic publicity reached fever pitch.
Despite the club issuing a statement saying it would be reviewing CCTV and taking action against those responsible for Saturday’s pitch invasion, police last night confirmed no arrests were made. Lancashire Police said it was satisfied with the way the “peaceful” protest, which halted the club’s final league game against Huddersfield Town after 48 minutes, was carried out it is not currently investigating.
A statement from the Tangerine Knights, the fans’ group behind a pre-match protest outside the ground, said: “It is quite clear to the Tangerine Knights and all Blackpool fans that Karl Oyston has lost control of Blackpool FC – our football club.
“We now call on the football authorities to take action, not against those fans who, after a season of utter insanity and a chairman who openly laughs at his own fanbase, chose civil disobedience as one course of protest about the destruction of the club, but against the Oyston family.
“There is a civil war at Bloomfield Road and the only way for it to end is for the Oyston family to relinquish control of our club, and leave.”
Many supporters were also quick to praise the demonstrations – inside and outside the ground – saying chairman Karl Oyston cannot ignore the strength of feeling among them. Christine Seddon, spokesman for the Blackpool Supporters Trust, said the march outside the ground, which the group helped organise, was “better than we hoped for”.
She added: “Although the pitch invasion wasn’t organised by us – it was individuals who decided to do it – I think we all feel that as fans we’ve become so incredibly frustrated that nobody is listening to us and eventually it comes to a point where enough is enough.”
Supporters who have faithfully followed the Seasiders for more than 50 years found themselves looking forward to a protest more than the match. Fans cheered when they heard the announcement their final game of the season had been abandoned after just 48 minutes because of the pitch invasion.
Around 300 people piled onto the pitch – including one man riding a mobility scooter – shortly after the start of the second half of Saturday’s home fixture against Huddersfield Town. Chanting towards the directors’ box, holding banners and smoke bombs, fans occupied the centre circle as the teams were taken off.
With police allowing the supporters to protest peacefully, those in the stands faced a wait of almost an hour before the referee finally called off the game.
The demonstration inside the ground followed a march, organised by supporters’ group the Tangerine Knights, and a vocal protest outside the ground. Around 2,000 took part, including a number of Huddersfield fans who wanted to support the cause.
The famous statue of Stan Mortensen, Pool’s hat-trick hero in the 1953 FA Cup final, was conspicuously absent on Saturday after being taken down by the club for “safety reasons”.
A statement from Blackpool FC, issued after match, said: “The club would like to confirm that all available CCTV footage is now being collated and studied by the relevant authorities to identify those who took part in the pitch invasion and other offences of disorder.”