Blackpool fans boycott Leeds game in protest against owners

Blackpool fans protest
Blackpool fans protested outside the ground prior to kick off before many went to watch AFC Blackpool

Hundreds of Blackpool fans boycotted Saturday's 1-1 Championship draw with Leeds United.

The fans of the Championship's bottom side are protesting against the club's owners, the Oyston family.

'Tangerine Knights' held a demonstration outside the ground prior to kick off before many went to watch AFC Blackpool's North West Counties Premier Division game with Bootle.

Blackpool have won just four games all season and are set to be relegated.

The former Premier League club have endured a miserable campaign after starting pre-season with just eight contracted players before failing to win any of their first 11 games.

Saturday's attendance of 11,688 was significantly higher than Tuesday's 9,168 against Charlton but was heavily boosted by a large travelling support from Leeds.

Tangerine Knights said on Twitter they estimated between four and six hundred Blackpool fans attended AFC Blackpool's game instead of the Championship clash.

It did the trick as the Mechanics, who usually play in front of home crowds of around 35, beat Bootle 2-1 with 503 people in attendance.

Why are the fans protesting?

The Tangerines were relegated from the Premier League in 2010-11 after one season.

They came close to an immediate return to the top flight the following season, losing to West Ham United in the play-off final at Wembley.

However, since then the Bloomfield Road side have struggled and the fans have become increasingly unhappy with how the club has been run by owner Owen Oyston and chairman son Karl.

Last month about 1,000 fans protested over the running of the club, while in October some fans walked out in the 53rd minute of their game against Cardiff - in reference to Blackpool winning the FA Cup in 1953.

Karl Oyston is currently part of an ongoing Football Association investigation over allegations he sent a supporter a number of abusive text messages.

Both Owen and Karl Oyston began legal action against fan David Ragozzino and a web forum for libel earlier this year.

On the field, the Tangerines have won just four matches all season and, barring a miracle, will be playing in League One for the first time since 2007 next season.

Lee Clark's side need five more points to avoid finishing the season with the lowest ever tally in a 46-game second-tier season.

Who are AFC Blackpool?

Formed as Blackpool Metal Mechanics in 1947, they currently play in the ninth tier of English football.

They changed their name to AFC Blackpool in 2008 after being given permission to do so by Blackpool.

Their ground has a capacity of 1,500 but their average attendance this season has been 35.

They are currently in relegation danger in the North West Counties Premier Division, and their win on Saturday was just their fifth of the season, still one more league win than the Seasiders.

The club decided to delay the kick-off of their league clash with seventh-placed Bootle by 15 minutes to allow the Blackpool fans to get to the ground.

What next for Blackpool?

As mentioned above, they will need something utterly miraculous to stave off relegation.

Boss Clark, who took over from the sacked Jose Riga in October, has long since accepted that they will be in the third tier next season.

After the 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth last week he said: "I wish the season was done, I wish it was over now and I could just start the rebuilding job straightaway.

"I feel sorry for them [the fans]. It's been a shocking season for them from the first day of pre-season until now."

It seems the majority of the fans want the owners to step aside but, at present, there is no sign that they intend to do so.

Blackpool fans watching AFC Blackpool
The Blackpool fans boosted AFC Blackpool's attendance up from their average of 35 to 503

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