Sunday league club Shovels FC have been controversially banned from wearing their normal kit for this weekend’s cup final because of fears it could upset Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston.
The Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Football Alliance (BFSFA) side, who play in a kit with the words “Oyston Out” displayed across the front, have been told they must wear an alternative shirt for Sunday’s division one cup final at Fleetwood Town.
The club’s players and management voted last year to change their name to Oyston Out FC as a protest against the current owners of Blackpool FC.
Chairman Andy Higgins told The Gazette that his club had been given clearance by the Alliance at the start of the season to play in their all black strip, which has the words “Oyston Out” displayed in bright tangerine.
According to Higgins, team manager Andy Thompson received a phone call this week to inform him that his team must either play in a replacement kit or forfeit the game against Bloomfield Brewhouse, which is the second of three divisional finals scheduled for Highbury on Sunday.
The club have already clinched the division one title and are now gunning for a league and cup double.
On hearing about the threat of being barred from the cup final, Higgins said: “The wider footballing world needs to know about the climate of fear the Oystons have created in this town and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bullied into submission.
“We owe it to all the football supporters who came to Blackpool to march against the Oystons to do what is right for our club and community.
“The players and management of Oyston Out FC would rather die standing up for what is right than live life on their knees.”
Further reservations had been raised about Shovels’ black kit, which could clash with the referee and the officials.
But Higgins stated that at the start of the season the club went to the expense of buying a number of alternative referee shirts in different colours.
Sunday Alliance secretary Frank Kennedy said: “FA rules clearly state that nothing offensive can be displayed on a club’s kit and this could be considered offensive.
“They may have been able to wear it all season but this is a final being held at Fleetwood Town, so it’s a bit different.
“We are not prepared to take the risk and we don’t want anything to happen. They have told us they have an alternative kit, so they can wear that.”
When asked what the consequences would be if Shovels FC were to wear their normal black kit, Mr Kennedy replied: “I cannot comment.”
The Alliance has a longstanding relationship with Blackpool FC and stages its Gledhill Cup final at Bloomfield Road each year. This season’s is due to be staged next Friday.