The struggle between Blackpool FC supporters and their owner Karl Oyston has reached a boiling point. On Saturday, supporters united from all over England in a march organised by the Tangerine Knights and the Blackpool Supporters Trust. After a troublesome season, Blackpool have been relegated to League One. Off the pitch, owned Karl Oyston has been involved in a number of scandals including insulting fans via text message, and syphoning off parachute payments from the club’s 2010 2011 Premier League season.
In 2010 Blackpool earned promotion to the top division for the first time in 30 years. More that 80,000 people took to the streets to celebrate the victory as Karl Oyston promised a lasting commitment to the Victorian seaside town. After being relegated the following season supporters of the tangerine club have seen things go from bad to worse. In 2012, their owner began to funnel the money into Oyston owned companies and large directors’ fees. The fans finally made their protest public in April of 2014, throwing thousands of tangerines and tennis balls onto the field at the 53rd minute of an FA cup game against Burnley.
As relegation began to look inevitable this year, supporters ramped up their actions, organizing flashmobs, and sabotaging signage of Oyston real estate agencies. At Reading, fans protested inside and outside the stadium, lighting flares and throwing eggs at the directors’ box. The Blackpool faithfull have not only resorted to traditional fan protests to stand up against their corrupt owner, a new figure has emerged seeking redemption for his club via the democratic process.
Local resident Blackpool fan, Andy Higgins has decided to run in the British General Election under the ticket “Football First, Oystons Out”. Higgins, who finds his roots in the local punk scene, is a PhD in Politics. Although victory seems unlikely, the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust claim that hey have registered members in the constituency than any of the mainstream candidate.
Karl Oyston is endemic of football owners today who ignore the importance of a club to the community from which it originated. In an era of political disillusionment the Blackpool Supporters Trust have used football as a catalyst to promote local democracy and direct action. Whatever the results will be, Blackpool is a better town for having stood up for their team.
To learn more about how you can protect your local club in the election here
We visited Blackpool recently to follow their protests, check it out below.