Fan jailed for Blackpool directors’ box threats

Some fans attempted to get into the directors' box during a protest at Bloomfield Road
Some fans attempted to get into the directors' box during a protest at Bloomfield Road
  • Fan jailed for 26 weeks for three offences
  • Found guilty of threatening behaviour after storming directors’ box, admits damaging security cameras and setting off a smoke bomb at other locations
  • Sacked his lawyer before the sentencing hearing
  • Second fan given suspended jail term for storming directors’ box
  • Court cleared after fans vent support for duo

A football fan who ‘gloried’ in what he did when he stormed a club’s directors box has been jailed.

Roofer Mark Rushton was sent to prison for 26 weeks and made the subject of a six-year football banning order.

“What you did on the day – you stormed the directors box at Bloomfield Road – does you no credit and football no credit

District judge Jeff Brailsford

Rushton also admitted two other offences – of damaging a security camera at Accrington Stanley FC during a Blackpool pre-season friendly and letting off smoke bombs on a railway platform after Blackpool’s friendly with Lancaster City.

As the prison handcuffs were snapped on his wrists, fans of Blackpool Football Club who had packed the courtroom gave the 25-year-old a round of applause before shouting “Kangaroo court” and, “Scandalous.”

District Judge Jeff Brailsford, sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court, ordered the room to be emptied and locked as a result.

Rushton. of Riversway, Blackpool, had been found guilty of threatening behaviour which put people in fear of their safety.

Beside him in the dock was refuse collector and father-of-three Neil Holden, 40, of Marton Drive, South Shore, who received a 13-week jail term suspended for a year.

He must do 300 hours’ unpaid work for the community and he received a three-year football banning order.

Jailing Rushton, the judge said: “Football does not need your behaviour

“What you did on the day – you stormed the directors box at Bloomfield Road – does you no credit and football no credit.

“You wore a mask – a frightening mask – and it did frighten innocent and elderly people and children. It intimidated them and then you turned to the crowds and glorified in what you had done.

“I find no mitigating factors in your behaviour whatsoever.”

It was on May 2 last year that a pitch invasion by Blackpool fans saw their match against Huddersfield Town abandoned.

The pitch protest was followed by a group led by Rushton storming the directors’ box and attempting to get inside.

The chairman of the club Karl Oyston was inside with family and guests and the court had heard earlier allegations from a police officer and the defendants that he had cajoled the fans angry about the way he was running the club by gesturing to them to come in.

His wife Victoria Oyston said in a victims’ impact statement that the incident had been ‘terrifying’ and described how her family including her children had received vile and disgusting emails and texts from fans.

Giving evidence at the trial, she said the Oyston family which owns the club had also received death threats.

Solicitor Peter Stringfellow – for Holden – said: “He is a fan who has a sense of injustice about what has been going on the club. The fans feel disenfranchised.

“That day a normally hard-working family man got caught up in the moment since then he has done a lot of soul searching and has regret over what happened.”

Rushton had sacked the same lawyer in the morning before the sentencing hearing.

Defending himself, Rushton told the judge: “There are two sides to this. Karl Oyston has been threatening me up to the Saturday just gone. I have had a lot of grief from him.”

He was about to launch into another verbal attack when the judge halted him stating: “There will be no political statements in this court.”