Seasiders fans take their protest to the Football League HQ in Preston

Blackpool fans turned up the volume on the Football League today in an attempt to make their voices heard.

Friday, 14th September 2018, 5:51 pm
Updated Friday, 14th September 2018, 6:52 pm
Blackpool FC supporters gathered outside the English Football League's (EFL) headquarters in Preston to protest about the continuing ownership of the club by the Oyston family. Andy Higgins addresses the protestors. PIC BY ROB LOCK 14-9-2018

More than 100 supporters, many carrying placards, staged a noisy demonstration outside the EFL’s operations centre in Preston for the second time in six months.

The protestors pumped out music over loudspeakers and chanted at the tops of their voices to get the League’s top brass to sit up and take notice.

Blackpool Supporters’ Trust chairman Christine Seddon told the gathering: “It’s not really about numbers, it’s a symbolic protest.

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“We are here because we are football and the people who work in that building don’t seem to get the message. So it’s up to us to get that message across and we need to be doing that with our politicians as well.

“Without football fans there is no football.

“We need an independent regulator to make sure that the future of our game is secure. We can’t leave it to pot luck.

“This is just the beginning. And it’s hard to be at the start of change. But we are going to bring change and it’s really down to us.”

She ended by telling the fans: “People like you will make the difference. We have to stand together. Fans united.”

There was a strong police presence in West Cliff, off the busy Fishergate Hill, including mounted officers. But the protest was good humoured and peaceful.

The oft-heard “Oyston Out” chants filled the air, as did “Where’s the money gone?” and calls for Valeri Belokon. Placards included messages like “Not fit or proper” and “Where next?”

Tim Fielding, vice-chairman of the BST said: “Today is about making them [EFL] know we haven’t gone away.

“We were here in March and afterwards we had a meeting with them at which we made various points. We don’t think they have been addressed. It’s a disgrace.

“No-one is governing the league properly. They represent their own members (clubs) and they have a conflict of interest.We have campaigned for an independent regulator, but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

“It’s been a long hard fight for Blackpool fans, but we are still here and we are still fighting.”

Steve Reed, who entertained the crowd as Afro Man with a specially written song about the EFL, said: “All we get from them is silence.

“But we are the people who pay the money. We won’t stop. We feel deeply aggrieved. It’s not right.”

David Marshall, who has been watching Blackpool for more than 50 years and attended the first protest in March, added: “I’m hoping that finally Oyston will go. I can’t see how financially that family can stay.”

And Derek Smith, a season ticket holder for half a century who has stayed away from Bloomfield Road for the last four years, said: “We need to get the League to listen.

“We want the EFL to act over what is happening at Blackpool, yet they aren’t hearing us.

“I’ve been supporting this club since I was 12. I never missed a match. But after the Huddersfield game - the day the fans got on the pitch to protest- I haven’t been back. And I won’t be going back until the Oyston family has gone.

“My grandson is six and he has not even been on a game at Blackpool yet. He’s not even had a shirt. That’s sad because it should be his club by now as a young fan. Yet he’s not been near.”