Blackpool fans angry after Stan Mortensen statue removal
Blackpool supporters have reacted angrily to the removal of the Stan Mortensen statue outside Bloomfield Road, which fans had planned to visit as part of their protests against the club's owners this weekend.
Blackpool, already relegated from the Championship, round off the season by hosting Huddersfield this weekend and disgruntled supporters are staging a prematch march against chairman Karl Oyston.
Fans' groups Blackpool Supporters Trust and the Tangerine Knights had dubbed May 2 "Judgement Day" following Oyston's declaration that naysayers should "judge us at the end of the season" back in August.
During this weekend's protests, fans had been asked to lay memorabilia and messages at the foot of a statue of Mortensen on the 62nd anniversary of his hat trick in the famous 4-3 victory over Bolton in the FA Cup final.
However, all that currently remains of the ode to Mortensen is the plinth after the statue itself disappeared on Tuesday, with nobody at Blackpool available for comment on the reasoning behind its removal.
Lancashire Police have been liaising with Blackpool ahead of this weekend's protests and a spokesperson told Press Association Sport that they had not asked for the statue to be taken down and that such a call was made by the club.
Tangerine Knights spokesperson Stephen Smith called its removal "utterly disgraceful" and believes the move has been motivated by this weekend's march.
"I think the removal of the statue is too coincidental with the timing of the planned protest at the weekend," Smith told Press Association Sport. "The removal of it is utterly disgraceful. Karl Oyston knew that we had plans to lay memorabilia at the foot of the statue given that it was the 62nd anniversary of Mortensen's hat trick at Wembley."
This weekend's demonstrations will be just the latest against Oyston and his family following protests against them prior to the draw with Reading earlier this month when supporters threw eggs at the back of the directors' boxes, as well as hurling a flare and firework in front of the main reception in the West Stand.
Last season a game against Burnley was stopped on multiple occasions as supporters tossed tangerines and tennis balls on to the pitch, and the anger against the Oyston family has only spread since.
Despite the chairman's claims that such shows of discontent will not change the way he works, the demonstrations are unlikely to end soon.
"Karl's said it doesn't affect him -- I think it's very clear now that the protests are getting to him," Smith added. "Our ultimate aim therefore is to remove him from power from the club and we'll continue to protest until that happens."