March won’t disrupt match, say Blackpool protesters

Last year's Judgement Day 2 march
Last year's Judgement Day 2 march
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Organisers of Saturday’s huge protest are adamant the day of action will not distract the Blackpool players ahead of their must-win last game of the season.

The demonstration, dubbed ‘Judgement Day 3’, will see Blackpool and Leyton Orient fans unite to voice dissatisfaction with their respective clubs’ owners.

It will take place before Blackpool’s crunch League Two clash with Orient – a match the Seasiders need to win to ensure a play-off place.

Orient’s game against Colchester last Saturday had to be completed behind closed doors after an estimated 750 fans invaded the pitch.

Rock-bottom Orient have been relegated to non-league under the ownership of Francesco Becchetti.

Asked if Saturday’s protest could be an unwelcome distraction for the players, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust chairman Steve Rowland said: “No, we don’t believe so.

“Gary Bowyer is on record as saying the squad understands why so many boycotting fans feel the way they do. There has been talk of a siege mentality within the squad.

“Bowyer and the players have been used to playing in front of low crowds all season and they deserve credit for continuing to focus on what happens on the pitch and for getting to the position they have. In that respect, Saturday will be no different.

“If anything, they should feel inspired by the prospect of so many fans being willing to turn up and protest. That in itself is a huge demonstration of support for the club by supporters who are concerned Blackpool FC should have a proper future under new ownership.

“Saturday’s protest is about the bigger picture, about campaigning for a change which will ultimately be good for everyone, fans and players alike.”

BST said it is not aware of any plans to disrupt the game following concerns from Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston that protesters could try to force an abandonment.

Rowland added: “Saturday’s march and rally have been organised in consultation with Lancashire Police and the local council and sponsored by the Football Supporters’ Federation, all of whom are satisfied with the arrangements in place.

“We intend that, like last year’s march, this protest will be loud and proud, while remaining legal. Fans have a legitimate right to protest and we ask them to exercise that right responsibly.

“We expect those who are boycotting and those who are going into the game to behave with respect towards each other and to ensure that the day is remembered for all the right reasons.

“We have known for some time that Saturday’s match would be an emotional occasion because it is Leyton Orient’s last game in the Football League.

“Our collective anger is an expression of disgust at the way Orient and other crisis clubs have been so poorly run by their owners.

“Whether that is the result of cynical business practice or sheer incompetence, the impact on club and supporters is the same and is devastating.

“The destruction caused to clubs and communities by arrogant and morally bankrupt owners is a blight on the game.”

The protest march will start at 4pm beside The Big One rollercoaster, making its way to Bloomfield Road via the Promenade. The match kicks off at 5.30pm.

An estimated 4,000 disgruntled Seasiders fans took part in last year’s Judgement Day 2 march, which coincided with the 4-0 defeat by Wigan which all but confirmed Pool’s relegation to League Two.