Blackburn Rovers fans urged to watch Chorley FC

Blackburn Rovers fans protest
Image caption Many Blackburn Rovers fans have been protesting against the club's owners

Blackburn Rovers fans have been urged to boycott their own club's FA Cup match on Saturday and watch local non-league club Chorley FC instead.

Fans are angry at the way the Premier League club has been run by Indian owners Venky's, who took over in 2010.

Blackburn Rovers FC Action Group said at least 120 fans planned to miss their club's away match at Newcastle United.

Non-league Chorley are struggling for money after a £70,000 shortfall was discovered in the club's accounts.

The suspected theft was reported by the club in September. A 23-year-old local man arrested on suspicion of false accounting was later released without charge.

Police have said they are continuing to investigate.

Chorley chairman Ken Wright said: "Obviously we would welcome anything that would increase our home crowd."

But he added: "Obviously we don't want to be involved in the dispute at Blackburn.

"We welcome any support at present - our position is precarious."

Chorley is managed by former Rovers player Garry Flitcroft, while another ex-Blackburn star Matt Jansen is player-coach.

"I think it is fantastic," said Mr Flitcroft, "If we can get a few more hundreds we will be very happy."

Blackburn Rovers FC Action Group has been protesting about the way the club is run by the poultry company Venky's. The firm took over at Ewood Park in November 2010.

Last week, Rovers posted an annual loss of £18.3m, increasing the club's overall debt to £26.3m. They are currently 19th in the Premier League, three points behind 17th-placed QPR.

'Real fans'

Action group founder Gareth Jones said: "We have got our problems at Blackburn and everything in the Premier League is about money.

"This is a chance to forget about that and see some real football with some real fans."

He said supporters also wanted to show their appreciation for Flitcroft and Jansen for what they did for the club.

An appeal by the group on Facebook has also asked fans to back the appeal fund to save Chorley from going into administration.

Mr Jones said more than 120 Rovers fans had already said they would attend Chorley's game with North Ferriby United.

He added: "We don't know how many others will be going - it would be great if we could get 500."

Formed as a rugby club in 1875, Chorley FC embraced football eight years later.

Its best known former players are England striker Paul Mariner, who also played for Ipswich and Arsenal, and ex-Blackpool and Everton forward Mickey Walsh, who won BBC Match of the Day's Goal of the Season in 1973-74.

Earlier this year Chorley, who play in the Evo-Stik Premier League, emulated Barcelona and Aston Villa by having a charity on their shirts with the logo of local children's hospice Derian House.

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