MP tells of concern over club’s links with community as Oyston furore deepens

Protest by Blackpool FC supporters over the running of the club outside Bloomfield Road prior to the game against Brighton

Protest by Blackpool FC supporters over the running of the club outside Bloomfield Road prior to the game against Brighton

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A Blackpool MP has told of his concerns over the “widening gulf” between Blackpool FC’s owners and the fans – fearing it could harm the club’s vital work within the community.

Gordon Marsden, Blackpool South MP, said the club’s important links with the community must remain.

Blackpool Works jobs fair organised by MP Gordon Marsden at Bloomfield Road.

Blackpool Works jobs fair organised by MP Gordon Marsden at Bloomfield Road.

He added: “I am extremely concerned about the widening gulf that exists between the management of the club and the supporters who were protesting and others who have made their concerns known.

“I think this has been made far worse by the issues around the appalling text exchanges which I have previously unreservedly criticised Karl Oyston for and asked for a public apology.

“It has been exacerbated by recent legal action as well.

“People in the community urgently need to take forward a process which will begin to look at a far more positive engagement.

“I have been contacted by the chairman of the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust and I am happy to discuss with him as with others potential ways forward.

“My growing concern is that the range of good activities in the past that the club has carried out across the whole community of Blackpool, in the sports clubs and public health campaigns, and other activities, is not affected.

“The club is at the heart of the Blackpool community.

“Its contribution needs to be safeguarded.” His comments come in the wake of a major protest by fans outside Bloomfield Road before the Seasiders’ 1-0 victory over Brighton at the weekend. A club official claimed stewards were assaulted.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police confirmed no arrests had been made after Saturday’s protest, but added officers were continuing to review CCTV footage of the incident.

Yesterday, Andy Higgins, a Blackpool fan, revealed he would stand for the Blackpool South parliamentary seat in May’s general election.

Mr Higgins, as part of the Football First party, said he intended to forge stronger links between the club and local community.

He added: “We want to bring national attention to what is happening at our football club. We also want to raise the profile of the Blackpool Supporters Trust and reach 2,000 members. I also promise, if elected, 50 per cent of my income from working as an MP will go to community projects.”