Blackpool and Charlton Athletic fans to unite for joint protest at EFL offices

Blackpool and Charlton Athletic fans are to unite in a joint protest outside the EFL's offices in both London and Preston.

Friday, 7th September 2018, 10:59 am
Updated Friday, 7th September 2018, 3:51 pm
Blackpool fans are to return to the EFL's headquarters in Preston

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Supporters of both clubs have been protesting against their owners, Owen Oyston and Roland Duchatelet, for some time now but have been left frustrated in their bid to force regime change.

Charlton supporters’ group Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) is now calling on Addicks fans to assemble outside the EFL’s offices in London at 55 Blandford Street, W1, at 12.30pm on Friday, September 14.

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Blackpool fans are to return to the EFL's headquarters in Preston

And it wants other football supporters, as well as London-based Blackpool fans, to join them. Blackpool Supporters' Trust (BST) will lead the 3pm protest at EFL House, 10-12 West Cliff, Preston, and welcome any Charlton and other fans in the north who are available.

For Blackpool, this will be their second protest outside EFL’s headquarters in Preston in the space of just six months.

A High Court judge ruled last November that Blackpool's owners have asset-stripped the club to the tune of £26m, bypassing governance arrangements to do so.

Blackpool supporters did meet with the EFL's chief executive Shaun Harvey back in March, but fans have been frustrated with the lack of action taken since then.

Blackpool fans are to protest outside the EFL's headquarters for the second time in six months

In a joint statement released by BST and CARD, it is claimed the EFL has done nothing to address the concerns raised in the court ruling and the Oyston family continue to cling on to the club, with the EFL seemingly unwilling to disqualify them.

BST said: “Charlton and Blackpool fans will take their protests against their respective clubs' owners directly to the EFL on Friday, September 14, with street demonstrations planned outside the league's offices in London and Preston.

“BST, supported by the Tangerine Knights and the MSG, are calling on all football fans in the area to join us outside the EFL HQ in Preston from 3pm.

“On the same day, CARD is calling on Addicks fans to assemble in London from 12.15pm. And it wants other football supporters, as well as London-based Blackpool fans, to join them.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey

“We hope that fans from all football clubs will support these demonstrations. Football governance needs reforming and all clubs are only one owner away from a potential nightmare.”

Meanwhile Duchatelet, Charlton's owner since 2014, is currently embroiled in a public dispute with club staff about unpaid bonuses, while attempts to sell the club have foundered because of his unrealistic valuation.

He has been the subject of a long series of demonstrations at matches since 2015. Local Greenwich and Woolwich MP Matthew Pennycook described the situation at the club as "utterly shambolic" two weeks ago.

Blackpool fans demonstrated outside the EFL's headquarters in Preston earlier this year

CARD said: "Football fans in general, and Charlton and Blackpool supporters in particular, continue to be extremely frustrated by the EFL's apparent unwillingness to address serious issues of poor governance at some of its clubs.

"While we welcome the EFL's holding statement on the situation at Charlton and the proposal to meet with both the club and the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust, we need to see a great deal more urgency and focus.

"While the EFL is dragging its feet, Charlton remain in a state of limbo with no executive directors, no chief executive, no chief financial officer, and until this week had had a caretaker team manager for six months.

“The administrative staff are up in arms because of the way they have been treated, while such day-to-day management as exists is implementing ill-considered, short-term decisions that rightly earn the derision of Charlton fans and the wider community. That cannot be allowed to continue.

"What is happening at our clubs could impact anywhere, so we will welcome fans of all other clubs joining us. The EFL appears to be little more than a trade association with decisions taken by the clubs for the benefit of the clubs. But without fans it is nothing.

"We call upon the EFL to step up to its responsibility to oversee the broader and long-term health of football in England.

Supporters of other clubs are being urged to get involved

“We need more than a charter, we need a binding code of conduct with real mechanisms to ensure enforcement. The EFL has access to a range of sanctions, including fines and bans. Whether it is prepared to use them to rein in rogue owners like Duchatelet is a question of competence and will."

BST has arranged coach travel to the Preston demonstration. Leaving from either The Thatched in Poulton or the No 10 Ale House on Whitegate Drive at 2pm and returning at approximately 5pm, please phone Andy Higgins on 07809 556422 to book your seat.

An EFL spokesperson said: “We are aware of the planned demonstrations and acknowledge the right of peaceful protest.”