PNE bans seven fans after trouble at Blackpool match

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Preston North End fans invade the pitch after the final whistle against Blackpool
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Preston North End fans invade the pitch after the final whistle against Blackpool
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Preston North End supporters involved in trouble at the ground have been slapped with three-year bans in a bid to protect the club’s family friendly ethos.

Seven fans have been told they will not be welcome at home or away fixtures after they were convicted of public order offences during a clash between Preston North End and Blackpool FC.

Several supporters were issued with football banning orders at Preston Crown Court when they were sentenced for disorder both on the pitch and outside the ground in Lowton Road when the Lilywhites clashed with Blackpool FC in the Capital One cup derby.

But one fan says he feels he is being “made an example of” after being banned by the club – despite being spared a football banning order in court.

Marlon Cross, 29, of Clayton-le-Woods, was fined £440 after being part of a crowd who were shouting and chanting at Blackpool fans outside the ground.

He said: “I want PNE to reconsider this. They are not even giving me the opportunity to appeal it. I’d understand if I’d been banned in a court of law and I’d accept that, but I wasn’t.

“What happened on the night might have been misinterpreted as intimidating and some people might have been frightened by seeing a group of blokes singing but there was a line of police vans and there was no chance of getting through to the other side.

“I have supported PNE since I was four and had a season ticket from the age of 12. I have even been banned from the club shop so I don’t have the opportunity to buy things for my nephew who is just getting into football.”

A club spokesman said: “Preston North End is a family club and we do not want those who are intent on causing trouble attending our fixtures.

“We work very hard to create a welcoming environment for all of our fans and disorder inside and outside the stadium witnessed on the day of the fixture against Blackpool in August 2013 was not acceptable behaviour.”

A total of 16 men were charged with public order offences and a single count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) after an investigation was launched following the disturbance.

Around 200 fans ran onto the pitch at the end of the match which saw PNE win 1-0 against Blackpool in August. Following the match supporters were caught up in a number of scuffles, the stadium was damaged, a steward was knocked over by a police horse and there was further trouble in the city centre.

CCTV images were circulated in a bid to catch those involved in the trouble and the men charged were sentenced to a range of fines and community punishments.