Clark refuses to blame fans after match is abandoned

Stewards guard the goal as Blackpool fans stage a protest
Stewards guard the goal as Blackpool fans stage a protest
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Lee Clark admits the pitch invasion by disgruntled Blackpool fans in their final Championship game of the season against Huddersfield compounded a horrendous campaign for the club.

However, the Blackpool boss refused to condemn the hundreds of home supporters who made their way onto the pitch in the 48th minute to protest against the club’s Oyston family owners, which eventually caused the game to be abandoned.

The already-relegated Seasiders have suffered a miserable campaign and went into the game hoping to avoid setting a new record low points total.

Stockport hold the dubious honour for fewest second-tier points since the 1988 expansion to 24 sides, with 26 in 2002, but matters off the pitch dominated proceedings at Bloomfield Road.

The Football League confirmed it would make a ruling on whether the game should be replayed, and Blackpool boss Clark thought it was a frustrating day for all concerned.

“It just compounds an absolutely horrendous season,” he said. “The supporters were just acting on this season and the culmination of the relegation.

“Frustration has been building up over a period of time. It’s a very, very disappointing day. I love football and I love working in the industry ever since I left school, and I didn’t want to be involved in anything like this.

“I have the feelings of a supporter and I’ll never criticise them. Since I came through the door there has been a very toxic atmosphere and you can’t be successful with that.

“We kept chatting to the referee and the officials and match commander, but we couldn’t determine what was going to happen or how long we’d have to wait before it was abandoned and what would the sanction be. Is the game going to be replayed? No-one knows as it’s a unique situation.”

Blackpool supporters remonstrated outside the stadium before kick-off, and that ill-feeling boiled over when hundreds took to the pitch just after half-time and unveiled banners against chairman Karl Oyston and owner Owen Oyston’s running of the club.

It resulted in over an hour delay before referee Mick Russell abandoned the game with the scores level at 0-0.

“I feel sorry for our fans first off, coming all this way. I’m sure some will have come last night and paid for accommodation and they were all in a good mood,” said Huddersfield boss Chris Powell.

“We were looking to win the game and had chances to do that but what happened is something that I’ve never seen before. It’s unprecedented and what’s going to happen now?

“To be fair to the referee, he was a little bit in shock but handled it well and got advice from safety officers and the head of police, and they tried their best to get the game back on but in the end they couldn’t guarantee our safety.

“It’s strange to end the season this way. There’s talk of replaying it but half my team go away on Tuesday so I really don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know how they are going to do it.”