Fleetwood bosses Andy Pilley and Joey Barton on opposite sides of political divide
Andy Pilley and Joey Barton see eye to eye on many things .... but politics is not one of them.
Chairman Pilley again used his club to promote the Conservative Party on the eve of polling, saying Fleetwood would be relegated from the Football League if Labour were to win.
Last month Pilley gave a guided tour of Highbury to a Conservative candidate and publicly endorsed the party.
The Town chief also runs the independent utilities company BES (Utilities). It was a Labour Party election policy to nationalise the energy supply business.
In a video released via an official Fleetwood Town social media platform on Wednesday, Pilley said: “It’s my role to do what is in the best interests of Fleetwood Town Football Club.
“I’m the business owner and I care deeply for the town of Fleetwood and for the Football Club.
“Now, what would happen to the Football Club is it will virtually definitely lose its league status if the Labour Party was to be elected because the football club would lose its funding from BES (Utilities), which is my core business.
“So it’s very much in the best interests of Fleetwood Town Football Club that the Labour Party are not selected and that the Conservatives are elected and they continue to back business and ultimately Fleetwood Football Club.”
The video received a mixed response online and was particularly controversial among those who believe sport and politics should remain separate.
Having said last month that he preferred football to be free of politics, Barton said of his chairman’s latest intervention: “I can understand it. I understand the ramifications of a Labour government. On the flipside of that, I’m a kid off a council estate in Liverpool, so I understand how the north is affected by a Tory government.
“I totally get it from Andy’s perspective. He’s obviously got a platform where he can voice it. I could go on Twitter and tell people to vote a certain way.
“I imagine in my dressing room there is all manner of different votes going in, depending on where they live, depending on their local constituent and I think you should always vote on how it affects you and your family.
“There will be people from working-class parts that have made themselves into entrepreneurs, Andy Pilley being one of them. For him, for his wealth, for his businesses, for his friends, family, employees, whatever, he feels it’s the right thing to do. I don’t agree with him but that doesn’t mean I’m going to fall out with him.”
As it turned out, the Tories did not win the Lancaster and Fleetwood seat from Labour, though the overall outcome will have left Mr Pilley happier than his head coach.