FA looking into chairman’s role during protest

Karl Oyston
Karl Oyston
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Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston is today under fresh scrutiny over reports he was ‘beckoning and enticing’ fans during the protest that halted the final game of last season, The Gazette can reveal.

The Football Association has confirmed it is aware of the comments, made by a police sergeant under oath during the trial of two supporters involved in the demonstration, and will look into them.

Blackpool fans attempting to reach the directors' box at Bloomfield Road

Blackpool fans attempting to reach the directors' box at Bloomfield Road

However, it is understood the FA considers its previous investigation into the events that caused Pool’s home fixture against Huddersfield Town to be called off to be ‘all-encompassing’ – meaning further action looks unlikely at this stage.

Seven fans were charged with public order offences following the so-called ‘Judgement Day’ protest, which saw up to 200 fans occupy the centre circle of the pitch at Bloomfield Road.

Although police said the majority of those involved behaved ‘responsibly and peacefully’, District Judge Jeff Brailsford this week described one of the protestors’ actions as ‘vulgar’ and ‘unacceptable’.

During the trial of Mark Rushton, 24, and Neil Holden, 40 – who were both found guilty of a public order offence – he heard evidence that Mr Oyston had to be asked to step away from the window of the directors’ box during the protest.

Sgt Greg Laidlaw, who was the only officer in the box at the time and had to call for back-up as fans surged forwards, said the chairman had been ‘beckoning and enticing’ supporters.

He added: “The windows were bowing. I was 100 per cent frightened.”

An FA spokesman today said: “The most I can say at this time is that we are aware of these reports and will consider the matter.”

The Gazette understands the previous investigation, which saw the club fined £50,000 and warned over its future conduct, did not focus on Mr Oyston’s conduct during the protest on May 2.

However, an FA source said: “Certainly it would have been quite an all-encompassing investigation. We have already sanctioned the club.”

When contacted by The Gazette, the Football League said the conduct of club officials falls outside its remit and is a matter for the FA.