Seasiders legend Brett Ormerod has chosen not to hold his testimonial at Bloomfield Road – saying the stadium is “too toxic”.
Ormerod, 39, was approached by both Blackpool FC and Blackpool Supporters Trust (BST) separately to mark his time at the club, where he scored more than 80 goals in two spells in tangerine.
He was offered the use of the stadium free of charge by Pool chairman Karl Oyston – but has chosen to snub the invite in favour of AFC Fylde’s new £18m Mill Farm stadium.
Speaking to The Gazette Ormerod explained: “It breaks my heart the game isn’t at Bloomfield Road but it’s just too toxic there at the moment.
“With all that’s going on and all the negativity around the place, I didn’t want it to spoil what should be a celebration for everyone.
“It’s something I had to think long and hard about but I just don’t want to be dragged into the mess at Blackpool
“Bloomfield Road is a place so close to my heart and a place I love, but at the moment I couldn’t have my testimonial there.”
AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite stepped forward to offer their Mill Farm Stadium as an alternative venue.
The game between an Ormerod All-Star Pool side and AFC Fylde will take place on July 31 at the Wesham venue and will serve as the official opening of the new stadium.
Ormerod hopes the politics can be left out of the game. He said: “I want it to be a special day for all Blackpool’s fans, one all supporters can be proud of.
“Once AFC Fylde came forward and offered their fantastic new stadium as a venue, it was an easy decision.
“With fans banned from Bloomfield Road and others refusing to step foot inside, I couldn’t have held it there.
“It would have stirred up a hornets’ nest and I would have been dragged into the criticism.“I didn’t want people saying I was siding with the Oystons. This isn’t a political statement. I don’t want the politics anywhere near the day.”
The game, organised by BST along with Ormerod and AFC Fylde, will feature players from Blackpool’s promotion squads of 2001 and 2010 back in tangerine.
One of the organisers, former BST chairman Tim Fielding, added: “Families can all get together and celebrate the incredible career of Brett Ormerod.
“AFC Fylde have been fantastic and are doing everything they can to make sure it will be a great day.
Fylde’s owner Haythornthwaite said: “When BST broached this idea I was absolutely delighted to be involved. Brett was one of my heroes, so to honour him in our new ground is a fantastic privilege.
“I hope everybody on the Fylde coast, no matter which team they are affiliated with, will support and salute Brett on the day.”