LOFT response to suspension of ticket sales
Earlier this evening (Monday 1 May), the EFL issued a statement announcing the suspension of ticket sales to Leyton Orient supporters for this coming Saturday's final match of the season at Blackpool.
The board of LOFT has been discussing this, and has tonight sent EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey a response. We have also offered to meet with them urgently tomorrow (Tuesday 2 May) to discuss this extraordinary development face-to-face.
In short, LOFT has stated that the game should go ahead as planned, with Blackpool FC ensuring there is sufficient security in place to prevent pitch incursions from either set of supporters.
There is nothing to suggest Leyton Orient's supporters will be anything but peaceful. The pitch invasion protest at their last home match was peaceful in nature, with no violence. There has been no suggestion by the police that public order offences took place, nor were there any arrests for such offences. Indeed, the protest saw protesters on crutches, in mobility scooters and with small children in tow!
Leyton Orient and its supporters has no history of violent protest. Our fans have been welcomed by other clubs supporting LOFT's aims, including allowing Orient fans to make collections to our Regeneration Fund at Luton, Cambridge and Tottenham Hotspur.
Further, there is no history of bad relations between the two clubs, indeed quite the opposite; both sets of supporters took part in a joint peaceful protest march at the reverse fixture last November.
Blackpool FC, as the home match arranger, simply needs to put sufficient security in place to prevent a repeat of such a pitch invasion.
In the view of LOFT's board, this is quite simply an extreme over-reaction by Blackpool FC to one single pitch invasion protest by Leyton Orient supporters. It appears to be a punishment of all Orient supporters at the protest having taken place.
All steps must be taken to ensure that Leyton Orient supporters are not excluded from attending Leyton Orient's last match in the EFL for at least a season, after 112 years of consecutive membership. A large number of Orient's supporters have already purchased tickets, and/or made travel arrangements, and/or booked accommodation for this fixture. More are planning to buy tickets later this week or on the day.
To summarise, the fixture must go ahead as planned with Leyton Orient supporters allowed to attend if they so wish.