Town fans have taken their bid for compensation over last season’s abandoned game at Blackpool to the Independent Football Ombudsman.
Around 200 Blackpool supporters invaded the pitch during Town’s game at Bloomfield Road in May.
The game was scrapped three minutes into the second half and Town officials believed the club’s 2,283 travelling fans should get their money back.
The Football Association subsequently hit the Seasiders with a £50,000 fine and a Football League Disciplinary Commission imposed a suspended three-point deduction but ruled that compensation for Town fans would be impractical and unfair.
Now Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association (HTSA) has persuaded Leeds-based ombudsman Prof Derek Fraser to investigate.
Though the ombudsman has no enforcement powers he can make recommendations and insist that the football authorities review their decisions.
Bob Pepper, former secretary of HTSA, took up the campaign with the ombudsman after the commission’s decision notice was published at the end of August.
The three-man commission said that compensation for Town fans only would be “inequitable” as only around 200 home fans were to blame for the abandonment. That left almost 6,000 Blackpool or “neutral” fans also entitled to a pay out.
And, on top of that, not all Town fans may be traced leaving money left over.
Mr Pepper said the ombudsman at first refused to get involved saying it wasn’t within his remit.
However, after further e-mails from HTSA – and pressure from Town supporter and Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney – Prof Fraser backed down.
Mr Pepper said it wasn’t clear what form the enquiry would take but HTSA had been given until Friday, November 13 to submit further evidence.
“I don’t know whether there will be a formal hearing or if it will all be dealt with through paperwork,” said Mr Pepper.
“We want to hear from Town fans who feel an injustice took place and we will be submitting a final report next week.
“The ombudsman is only in Leeds so it wouldn’t be a problem giving evidence in person.”
Mr Pepper said even if the ombudsman’s decision went against them the campaign wouldn’t end there.
Town fans at the Blackpool game gallery below.
“The last throw of the dice will be the Small Claims Court,” he said.
To contact HTSA ring secretary Trev Whitehead on 07725 036109 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ombudsman Fact File
The Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO) was set up in 2008 by the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League.
The IFO, based at Great George Street, Leeds, acts as the “final stage” in complaints to the various football authorities and is described as the “independent and final arbiter of football complaints.”
The IFO is history professor and Birmingham City fan Prof Derek Fraser. His deputy, Alan Watson CBE, is a football referee and a former Parliamentary watchdog who investigated complaints against Government departments.
After a complaint has been investigated the ombudsman’s findings will be published and recommendations made to the relevant football body. If that body rejects the recommendations it must publish reasons why. The ombudsman has no enforcement powers.