‘Support for legal fund is overwhelming’

Blackpool FC fan Joe Atherton, who set up a fund-raising page for Frank Knight, who was forced to pay the club �20,000.
Blackpool FC fan Joe Atherton, who set up a fund-raising page for Frank Knight, who was forced to pay the club �20,000.
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A Blackpool FC supporter who started a campaign to raise money for a fellow fan who was sued by the Oystons said he did it because “enough is enough”.

An online fund-raising page to help pensioner Frank Knight, who issued a public apology for comments made about the club and its directors, racked up more than £2,000 in the first 13 hours.

Frank Knight (from Facebook)

Frank Knight (from Facebook)

The 67-year-old, a lifelong fan, agreed to pay the club £20,000 to settle the year-long legal dispute.

It follows comments he posted on his Facebook page – to just a handful of people – last year, which he accepted were defamatory to the club and its directors, Karl and Owen Oyston.

Joe Atherton, 31, set up the “Frank Knight Campaign” for a man he had never met after deciding the Oystons’ actions had overstepped the mark.

He told The Gazette: “I am not condoning what Frank has done in any way, shape or form.

Protesting Pool fans

Protesting Pool fans

“I agree he should have been made to make a public apology but, for me, the punishment does not fit the crime.

“I just think this is way beyond excessive.”

The latest development in the club’s off-the-field drama follows the ongoing legal disputes with another fan ,David Ragozzino, and online forum Back Henry Street, as well as two other cases that ended with a public apology.

Mr Atherton, who has not been to a home game for three years because he refuses to give his cash to the Oystons, said: “I decided enough was enough and something had to be done.”

He set up the page on fund-raising website Go Fund Me on Thursday evening.

Within an hour, he said, the total stood at £180. By the time he woke up on Friday morning it was around £400.

He said: “The support has been pretty overwhelming, to be honest.

“It’s not just Blackpool fans either – it’s fans from up and down Britain.

“The whole solidarity from fans has been fantastic.

“It is things like this that make me proud to be a Blackpool fan.”

People who have contributed to the fund so far include fans of Hibernian, Stockport County and Liverpool.

Last April, just days after Mr Knight posted the allegedly defamatory comments on Facebook, chairman Karl Oyston told The Gazette he had started legal proceedings against fans in order to protect his family.

Blackpool FC has declined to comment further on the matter.