Neil Critchley responds to Preston North End's decision to slash Blackpool's ticket allocation for the derby

Neil Critchley insists it’s Preston North End’s “prerogative” to allocate Blackpool a reduced ticket allocation for the derby at Deepdale later in the season.

By Matt Scrafton
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 10:07 am

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It was recently announced that the clash has been shifted back to April to be played on Tuesday, April 5 - on what would have been Sir Tom Finney’s 100th birthday.

It should have initially been played on Saturday, March 19, however the Conservative party are holding their conference in Blackpool that weekend which will require police resources being diverted from other areas of Lancashire.

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In a statement announcing the news, PNE also revealed the Bill Shankly Kop will be split for the game with home fans allowed to sit in part of it - despite the stand usually being for the exclusive use of away supporters in recent years.

Blackpool have also been allocated a reduced allocation of approximately 2,000, around 200 fewer than Preston received for the initial fixture at Bloomfield Road in October, which the Seasiders won 2-0.

Responding to the news, Blackpool said in a statement they were “surprised” and “disappointed” with their allocation given Preston’s ability to host “many more away fans”.

It comes after ticket controversy surrounded the Bloomfield Road fixture, as Preston received a smaller allocation than some other clubs - such as fellow Lancashire outfit Blackburn Rovers, who brought over 3,000 supporters.

The Seasiders will now make the trip to Deepdale in April

However, this was to allow the Seasiders to sell out the home ends, something they didn’t do for the Blackburn game.

It also appears unlikely Preston will sell all their tickets for April’s derby clash, prompting suggestions this was a “tit-for-tat” move to please their supporters.

When queried about Preston’s decision to offer a reduced allocation, Critchley refused to get drawn in a spat with Blackpool’s rivals.

“I knew the game had changed, but I hadn’t seen about the allocation,” he told The Gazette.

“That’s up to Preston, it’s their ground. It’s up to them.

“I knew the game had changed but I didn’t know about the allocation, so that’s Preston’s prerogative. It’s up to them.

“But it will be a game we look forward to when it comes around obviously.”

April’s game will be Blackpool’s first visit to Deepdale in nine years, while it’s the first league meeting at Preston’s home ground since 2010.

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