Football supporters have appealed to town hall bosses to support their calls for the Oyston family to step down from running Blackpool Football Club.
Speaking on behalf of Blackpool Supporters Trust (BST), Andy Higgins warned Blackpool Council that it “needs to show a public interest in the worsening situation at Blackpool FC.”
Mr Higgins addressed a full council meeting last night in a bid to highlight fans’ grievances about the way the club is being run.
But Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn responded by saying while the local authority would do what it could to help improve the situation, it could not “take sides.”
Mr Higgins told the meeting a football club was “more than just a business and has a special place in our community.”
He added: “Owners are temporary, the local people created the club and have sustained it through generations.”
He called for the council to take four actions – to publicly declare its support for a change of ownership at Bloomfield Road, to write to the sports minister to promote meaningful fan engagement, to write to the FA to call for a formal investigation into the running of the club on ethical grounds, and to support the principle that BST should be officially recognised by the club.
Mr Higgins said: “As a supporters trust we exist to protect our famous club from those who would purposely or accidentally bring harm to it. At this time we need the support of every Blackpool fan and not least our local council if we are to prevent the club, and the town, from being further diminished.”
Fans, who filled the public gallery in the council chamber after protesting outside the town hall ahead of the meeting, are angry at the way the club has been run in recent years during which it has toppled from the Premier League to League One.
Coun Blackburn said it was clear “there is a great deal of unhappiness around”.
He said he had held meetings with BST and both Karl and Owen Oyston.
He added: “So the council and I will continue to do whatever we can to improve the situation and continue to do so in an even handed way, meeting with both the owners and fans groups and maintaining confidentiality of those talks.
“We cannot take sides that is not the role of the council.”
Afterwards Mr Higgins said he felt the council had “kicked the issue into the long grass”. He said: “Coun Blackburn effectively said it’s the way of the world, but it’s the way of the Oystons really.”
Christine Seddon, spokesperson for BST, described the response as “hugely disappointing”.