Deadline set as FA and police probe pitch invasion

Blackpool fans staged a protest and pitch invasion during the last game of the season
Blackpool fans staged a protest and pitch invasion during the last game of the season
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Blackpool have a week to give their side of the story after being charged by the Football Association over the pitch invasion against Huddersfield Town.

An investigation by English football’s governing body alleged Blackpool “failed to ensure that no spectators or unauthorised persons were permitted to encroach onto the pitch” after more than 200 fans forced the final game of the season to be abandoned after invading the pitch.

Pool have now been asked to give their response to the charge, which follows last week’s similar action by the Football League.

While the Football League impose possible future points deductions the FA could force Blackpool to play games behind closed doors next season should they feel safety procedures failed sufficiently to cause a danger to players.

Lancashire Police have now also revealed they are investigating the incident.

“It is alleged the club failed to ensure that no spectators or unauthorised persons were permitted to encroach onto the pitch area whilst attending this fixture, resulting in its abandonment,” read a statement from the FA. Blackpool have until May 28 to respond to the charge.”

Club officials at Bloomfield Road are carrying out their own investigation into the incidents, and say they are working closely with Police on the matter.

A statement from Blackpool FC said: “Lancashire Police have now appointed a Senior Investigation Officer (SIO) to carry out a post-match investigation into the events that occurred during the game, along with public order offences and criminal activity relating to harassment, malicious communications and criminal damage.

The club will be making formal representations to The FA and The Football League to defend and mitigate both charges as appropriate.

A statement said: “The club is in regular dialogue with Lancashire Police and is working very closely to support Lancashire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to charge those responsible for the above criminal offences.

“Further action will be taken to recover damages and costs from those responsible.”

It’s the second charge to be hanging over the Seasiders from the Football Association at present, chairman Oyston is awaiting news on five misconduct charges after an abusive text conversation with a supporter leaked at the end of last year.

Lancashire Police say they are working to identify a ‘small number’ of people who they claim ‘crossed the line of peaceful protest’ involved in the pitch invasion.

Chief Inspector Eddie Newton of Lancashire Police said: “Our priority on the match day was to ensure the safety of all those inside the ground.

“The majority of protesters acted peacefully throughout and our policing response at the time reflected this.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Blackpool FC and Huddersfield Town FC supporters for their restraint, support and cooperation which helped to ensure that everyone was able to leave the ground safely and without injury.

“The aim of our investigation now is to identify the small minority of supporters who overstepped the mark and behaved in an unacceptable manner.

“We are currently working alongside Blackpool Football Club, the FA, the UK Football Policing Unit and the CPS to conduct a proportionate investigation and enquiries are on-going to ensure that those responsible are brought to account for their actions.”