Premier League - Blackburn ban protest banners
Wed, 02 Nov 15:20:00 2011
Blackburn fans calling for the removal of manager Steve Kean have been banned from displaying protest banners before and during Saturday's home match with Chelsea.
A fourth successive demonstration is planned at Ewood Park, but the club will not allow any banners into the ground until after the final whistle. Rovers will, however, allow fans to stage their protest after the match with banners which have been handed over to stewards prior to entry.
"Any banners that have to be confiscated due to them not being offered over in good faith will not be returned and personnel may be refused entry at that point," Blackburn's stadium/safety manager John Newsham wrote in an email sent to protest organisers. "If any banners get into the ground and are displayed they will be removed by stewards and not returned."
Protest organisers said, after a meeting with the club and Lancashire Police, the decision was taken after Rovers claimed there may be a counter protest against the demonstration and they wanted to reduce the chances of conflict inside the ground.
"Not being able to have banners is a blow, but we take health and safety very seriously," Glen Mullen, one of the organisers, said in a statement. "The protest group's conduct has been exemplary throughout the last couple of months and we wish all our demonstrations to be peaceful with clear messages.
"Although disappointed, we respect the club's decision to impose a banner ban in the interest of public safety.
"We have had no incidents of public order offences during any previous protests and have no wish to see any in the future.
"We appreciate the club and the police bringing to our attention that other protest groups may exist and may be looking to cause conflict on Saturday.
"This is something no-one wishes to see at Ewood Park, which has always been a club with impeccable supporter conduct."
Kean has faced opposition from a growing number of fans after presiding over just six wins - and just one this season - in 31 Barclays Premier League matches.