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Charlton and Blackpool fans to stage coordinated protests

Charlton and Blackpool fans will take their protests against their respective clubs’ owners directly to the English Football League on Friday in coordinated protests outside its London and Preston offices.

The Blackpool Supporters Trust has been leading local opposition to majority-owner Owen Oyston for several years, while the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) is desperate to see the end of the controversial Belgian’s reign at The Valley.

CARD is asking London-based Blackpool fans, and supporters of any other clubs, to join them outside the EFL’s office on Blandford Street at 12.30pm, with the trust leading a similar protest at EFL House in Preston at 3pm.

In a statement, CARD said fans in general, and Charlton and Blackpool supporters in particular, are “extremely frustrated by the EFL’s apparent unwillingness to address serious issues of poor governance”.

CARD welcomed the EFL’s statement last week that the league was monitoring Charlton, and that it wanted to meet fans to discuss the crisis, but said “we need to see a great deal more urgency and focus”.

Accusing the league of “dragging its feet”, CARD noted that the League One club has no executive directors or chief financial officer and Duchatelet is embroiled in a dispute with staff over unpaid bonuses.

“What is happening at (Blackpool and Charlton) could impact anywhere, so we will welcome fans of all other clubs,” it said.

“We call upon the EFL to step up to its responsibility to oversee the broader and long-term health of football in England. We need more than a charter, we need a binding code of conduct with real mechanisms to ensure enforcement.

“The EFL has access to a range of sanctions, including fines and bans. Whether it is prepared to use them to rein in rogue owners is a question of competence and will.”

Duchatelet bought the Addicks in 2014, adding Charlton to a mini-empire of clubs in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Spain.

But any plan to replicate the multi-national franchise model successfully employed by the owners of Manchester City or Watford soon fell apart amid relegation, a revolving-door recruitment policy and endless rows.

Fans have been protesting against his ownership since 2015 and a fortnight ago local MP Matthew Pennycook described the situation as “utterly shambolic”.

The Oyston family’s long hold over Blackpool has been the subject of fierce protest ever since it emerged they pocketed millions from the club’s season in the Premier League in 2010/11.

Relegated three times since then, Blackpool were promoted back to League One last year, despite many fans boycotting the club in an attempt to force the Oystons out.

Last November, a High Court judge ruled that the Oyston family owes minority shareholder Valeri Belokon more than £31million for illegally asset-stripping the club, which remains up for sale but stuck in limbo.

Asked about Friday’s protests, an EFL spokesman said: “We are aware of the planned demonstrations and acknowledge the right of peaceful protest.”

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