No BFC ban for fan put in dock by Facebook

Pitch invasion: Thomas Bibby was before the court following protests at the Blackpool v Burnley game on Good Friday
Pitch invasion: Thomas Bibby was before the court following protests at the Blackpool v Burnley game on Good Friday
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A man who took part in a pitch invasion at Blackpool FC found himself in the dock after police spotted a picture of him on the field on Facebook.

Thomas Bibby was caught on camera invading the pitch at Bloomfield Road and running about with his arms in the air.

Police football intelligence officers tracked him down because he used a photograph of himself invading the pitch on his Facebook profile page.

Footage of him on the playing area was also posted on You Tube in a video entitled “Oyston Out” – a reference to some fans wanting the removal of club chairman Karl Oyston.

And a picture of him also appeared on the back of The Gazette as part of coverage of the incident.

Bibby, 20, of Hawes Side Lane, Marton, pleaded guilty to going onto the playing area during a match.

He was fined £100 and ordered to pay £85 costs plus £20 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates, who said on this occasion they were not putting Bibby on a Football Banning Order which would have prohibited him from attending soccer matches.

Pam Smith, prosecuting, said Blackpool were playing at home against Burnley on April 18 and the match was being televised by Sky.

The pitch was invaded three times. Supporters organised a sit-in on the playing area and at one stage 200 tennis balls and numerous tangerines, the club’s playing colour is tangerine, were hurled onto the pitch.

The referee, Michael Oliver, was hit by a tennis ball and the match was halted for a time.

The protest was organised by fans who believed the owners were not spending enough money on the club, particularly players.

The prosecutor said: “There was serious disruption to the game. Bibby told police he was unsure whether he threw a tennis ball or not. He confirmed a picture of him on the pitch was on his profile page and that he had posted video footage.

“I have been asked to apply for a Football Banning Order against the defendant.”

Defence lawyer Howard Green said his client, who had no previous convictions, had been a life-long Blackpool fan and season ticket holder for seven years.

Mr Green added that in the run-up to the game placards had been put up suggesting more money should be put into the club by the owners.

Bibby had not been involved in the protest campaign, but saw a photograph of the club chairman apparently taunting what was written on the placards and it annoyed him.

The defence said: “He had had a few beers before the game and when all the tennis balls were thrown, he jumped up and ran onto the pitch. He did pick up a tennis ball but did not throw it at anyone.

“Afterwards he got a letter from Mr Oyston telling him he was not welcome at the final game of the season and he did not go.

“He did one stupid thing, but he supports Blackpool and the one thing he wants is to be able to go to their games.”