The head of safety at Blackpool FC has today appealed to fans to stay in their seats after an ugly row broke out between supporters and stewards during Saturday’s game at Bloomfield Road.
Furious fans say one supporter was injured in the altercation which broke out in Block X at the back of South Stand during Pool’s 1-0 win over Birmingham.
Ground safety officer Tony Pinder said stewards, accompanied by police, went into Block X during the second half because of concerns some fans had left their seats in other blocks to go and stand there.
But fans say one of the stewards was aggressive and a scuffle was sparked as attempts were made by staff to remove people from the block.
One supporter, who says those targeted by the stewards have genuine seats in Block X, said: “They knocked a young boy who sits in front of us to the ground and this lad was almost trampled on.
“Not only was this younger lad injured, an older man another row down was also pushed to the ground and actually ended up being pushed down the steps and fell at least two rows forwards.
“By now police, fire and safety stewards and other crowd stewards had arrived and a bigger scuffle had broken out.”
The Pool fan said the row was initially sparked after a fan clambered over a row of seats to get to his own seat.
“When attempting to climb over the row of seats – there is no steps at our side of the row to our row – he was confronted by one of the stewards,” the supporter added.
“A few of us heard this and quickly tried to calm the steward down by letting him know he sits with us and he was getting to his seat. The same steward replied aggressively again.
“Again we all tried to calm him down.”
The incident on Saturday has also been widely discussed on fan forums and social networking sites.
Another fan posting on a BFC supporters’ forum, said: “They tried to pull out a Pool fan from the back row,he wouldn’t leave peacefully, they ended up sending two innocent fans who were not even looking flying over three rows of empty seats.
“The older one of the two narrowly missing a female fan and ending up at my feet.”
Another said: “The guy was visibly shaken, and it is a miracle that he wasn’t seriously injured.”
Mr Pinder today confirmed a steward involved in Saturday’s incident, which was captured on the stadium’s CCTV system, had been “spoken to” about the way he handled the situation.
Normally, regular stewarding staff at Bloomfield Road are shared with Preston North End, but because both clubs were at home on Saturday, Blackpool brought in contract staff, of which the steward involved was one.
Mr Pinder said: “It has been dealt with internally. His actions in dealing with this were less than acceptable to me and it has been dealt with.”
He added: “The police were there and spoke to all the people around there and to my knowledge there have been no complaints.
If (the injured fan) wishes to complain he can contact the football club and leave his number and I will contact him and deal with the complaint. I am happy to deal with any complaints.
“For some time now we have had concerns regarding Block X in South Stand. There’s a migration of younger fans to that area where drummer is.
“We are finding that Block X has double the number of people it should have.
“On this occasion, stewards were instructed by my stand manager to monitor this and peacefully resolve it, and send them back to where they should be sat. It is purely a safety issue.
“The police have followed them up because there is always the potential for disorder when people are asked to move from where they should not be.
“I understand they all want to be together but it does not enter their heads about safety.
“I would say to them don’t go up there, stay in the seats you are allocated because going up there gives us concerns about safety.”