Blackpool FC issues statement over legal action

Blackpool FC

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Blackpool FC has moved to clarify its stance over legal action being taken against fans by issuing a statement on its website this evening.

It follows recent revelations published in The Gazette based on minutes from last month's Fans' Progress Group (FPG) meeting.

The statement reads as follows: "Blackpool Football Club would like to clarify its stance on the subject of legal action and the pitch invasions that took place in 2015.

"The club wishes to make clear that no new legal action has been initiated and that the legal action mentioned within September’s FPG minutes was in reference to ongoing proceedings against no more than 10 individuals that was previously reported, and confirmed on several occasions.

"The club made a commitment back in July that no new legal actions would be taken, on the understanding that there will be no further criminal or illegal behaviour, or obscene abuse, or defamation. The club’s stance has not changed.

"The club believes that the pitch invasion against Huddersfield Town on 2 May 2015 was organised and led by members of the Tangerine Knights and the pitch invasion happened contrary to discussions that the Tangerine Knights had with the police, whereby they assured the police that no pitch invasion would take place.

"The individuals that entered the field of play refused to leave once they had protested and it is believed they had the specific intention of forcing the match to be abandoned. Had the match not been abandoned, the club would not be compelled to take legal action.

"In summary:

- The club was fined heavily and sanctioned by the Football Association and Football League (now EFL) for the pitch invasion against Huddersfield Town. If it happens again we will be fined even more heavily and very likely have points deducted, and/or be forced to play games behind closed doors, affecting all supporters and not just those protesting.

- All new legal actions have been stopped and an amnesty was offered to the vast majority of fans who went on the pitch and caused match abandonments in the home league match against Huddersfield Town (2 May 2015) and/or in the following away pre-season fixture at Lancaster City (11 July 2015), dropping legal action and stadium bans, provided those fans sign an acceptable behaviour agreement.

- In the case of no more than 10 we have or are issuing proceedings against, all of whom have been identified, we are doing our best to find an acceptable compromise so we can put this matter behind us.

"It is imperative that the club resolves this issue swiftly and also receives assurances that no further criminal acts will take place.

"The club is pleased to see an acknowledgement from BST, following its previous requests, that supporters should not commit criminal acts.

"The club now challenges BST to take positive action and stem the criminal activity that has continued as recently as August 2016, when a vehicle was attacked outside Morecambe’s ground with elderly and young occupants inside. The incident also resulted in a female police officer sustaining injury.

"The club calls on BST to expel any members involved in any criminal act."