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Blackpool fans rejoice as Oyston finally departs Bloomfield Road

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Ticket sales sky rocket for Saturday's visit of Southend

After years of waiting, finally Blackpool fans have got their wish. Owen Oyston has officially been removed from the club's board, with the Tangerines announcing Ben Hatton as their new executive director, alongside Ian Currie (non-executive director), Michael Bolingbroke (consultant to the board) and Tim Fielding (non-executive director carrying out observational role with no voting rights).

Fellow director Clive Brooks has also been removed from the board of Blackpool Football Club Ltd, as has Oyston's daughter Natalie Cristopher. This marks a brand new era for the west Lancashire club, who currently sit 10th in League One, with supporters ready to celebrate this weekend when they host Southend United at Bloomfield Road.

For years, fans of the club have boycotted home matches in protest of Oyston. The average attendance at Bloomfield Road this season is just 3,912 - less than a quarter of the stadium's full capacity of 17,338, with a sea of empty orange seats ever-present whenever you watch the Seasiders on Television.

This weekend however, the club are expecting a bumper crowd for the visit of mid-table Southend, with 11,500 tickets already sold. To put it into context, the Tangerines last home fixture against Oxford United just under a fortnight ago was 4,003. The club have confirmed that the north, south and west stands will all be open this weekend, with staff on hand to open the east stand if it's required.

'Homecoming Saturday'

This weekend's clash has been labelled as 'Homecoming Saturday' by the BST (Blackpool Supporters Trust), with a celebration parade planned before the match. The supporters trust have called on as many fans as possible to join the parade, donning banners and scarves to mark the memorable occasion. In a statement to fans, the BST said:

“This is the green light we’ve been waiting for. Thank you for your patience, for holding back until we could be sure that your purchase of tickets for next Saturday’s home match – and subsequent games – will benefit the football club and not the Oystons. Go ahead and purchase those tickets in confidence.

“We are on for Blackpool’s big Homecoming Saturday – let’s try and fill Bloomfield Road to capacity.

“Lancashire Police have approved plans for a celebration parade on March 9 from Blackpool Tower along the promenade to Bloomfield Road. More details will follow but in outline: meet at the Comedy Carpet from 1pm, set off to walk to the ground at 1.30pm, arriving at Bloomfield Road at 2pm.

“Everyone is welcome. Blackpool’s former players will lead the parade. Bring your banners, scarves, flags and let’s make it an occasion to remember.

“Whether you were boycotting for years or not, it is time to put any past differences behind us.

“The future is what counts and it starts here with an opportunity for us all to go back together in celebration of being Oyston-free, the day when we can start enjoying our football club again. Finally, Blackpool are back.

“This has been a tremendous journey and once again the world will be watching.

“Let’s show everybody just how much this means to us all and what a fantastic fan base Blackpool has. There may even be a football match to enjoy.”

Oystons branding removed inside Bloomfield Road

Just to solidify the end of the Oyston era at Blackpool, yesterday pictures emerged on social media of a sign advertising his estate agency being taken down inside Bloomfield Road.

With this weekend's game against the Shrimps being the first in over four years for many supporters - who have opted to boycott the Tangerines' home fixtures in protest of Oyston - not having to see their former owners name posted around their beloved stadium will be a moment to cherish.

Volunteers have continued to help clean the stadium this week, with the feel good factor surrounding the club firmly in place. This weekend's fixture - which is expected to be a sellout - signals a new beginning for the Seasiders, as they look to make an unexpected late charge for the play-offs.

Blackpool are currently just seven points behind sixth-placed Doncaster as things stand, can they give this turbulent season a fairytale ending?