The stunt which saw a plane fly over Deepdale to mock Preston North End’s relegation from the Championship is to be investigated by the aviation watchdog.
The Civil Aviation Authority is to study potential infringements after a low-flying aircraft circled over the ground, trailing two banners before and during the club’s 3-1 win over Watford on Saturday.
The plane flew over the stadium, displaying two separate banners, purportedly organised by Blackpool FC fans, reading: “Poor little Preston enjoy League One” and “We are superior love Blackpool FC.”
After the match, PNE manager Phil Brown called the stunt “distasteful” and even said he wanted to “shoot down” the plane. Now, aviation officials are investigating whether the pilot, who has yet to be identified, breached safety rules. If found guilty of serious infringements, the pilot could be jailed or fined, depending on the severity of the offence.
A spokesman for the CAA said: “Rules about flying aircraft over built-up areas are very clear, and we are investigating whether any infringements were committed.
“An aircraft cannot fly over a built up area below 1,000ft. We are currently looking at the pictures to make an assessment.
“Our legal enforcement team will look into it, and if an infringement is believed to have been made, the issue will be taken up through the courts and the pilot behind it could be prosecuted.”
Breaches for low-flying in built up areas carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail, and a fine of up to £5,000.
The incident took place during North End’s final match of the season against Watford on Saturday afternoon. The victory saw the already-relegated Lilywhites finish third bottom of the table, above Scunthorpe United and Sheffield United, on goal difference.
After the match, Brown said: “Seriously, if I had a gun I would have shot the plane down.
“Arrest me now if you want. I found it very distasteful.”
Blackpool played later in the day away at Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite securing a 1-1 draw they now find themselves 18th in the Premier League table, languishing dangerously in the relegation zone with just two games left to play.
Glenn Bowley, chairman of Blackpool FC Supporters Association, said: “People need to develop a sense of humour. It was simply a bit of banter between two rival clubs, who have a healthy rivalry going back a long time.
“Obviously, Preston is going through a bit of a slump at the minute, and Blackpool is enjoying time in the Premiership, but we shouldn’t blow it out of proportion.”
Last year, PNE fans hung banners, including one on a bridge on the M55, saying “forever in our shadow” when Blackpool FC headed to Wembley.
In 1991, Blackburn Rovers fans were delighted when a plane flew over Burnley’s Turf Moor ground when the Clarets failed to gain promotion. The banner read: “Staying down forever luv Rovers Ha Ha Ha.”
Blackburn’s all-time leading goalscorer Simon Garner is believed to have been responsible for that fly-over.