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On Tuesday, 25th April, Burnley will be playing Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in front of a crowd that will be reduced because of the shameful antics of the hosts with our own football club hardly helping matters in terms of who will be there.

There had been lots of rumours that Blackburn were to offer us a much reduced allocation. I took a look back to see how many fans we’d taken there in recent years. Over four and a half thousand have been to the last two league games there and over 5,000 were at the League Cup win in 2017. At the FA Cup replay in 2005 there were over 7,000 Burnley fans in the Darwen End of the ground.

For our previous four visits, I’ve attended planning meetings at Ewood Park on behalf of Burnley FC Supporters Groups, along with one colleague, ahead of each fixture and to the police station at Blackburn for debriefs afterwards. I know we had the issues with the mandatory bus travel but I did think we were helping to make progress with the addition of further pick up points, which helped enormously, and I feel helped us to progress to the situation now which has finally ended the ‘bubble’ transport.

Then, we were always told that number of tickets available for us in the Darwen End was restricted by the space available in the compound behind for the fleet of buses. There appeared then to be no desire by those involved at Blackburn Rovers to limit the numbers.

For their next home game against Norwich, they’ve offered a total of 4,000 to the away team and yet, astonishingly, only 2,000 to us. Any suggestion that they want to keep away fans to a minimum, and I believe 2,000 is the minimum, because of the importance of the games to them is therefore thrown out of the window.

It’s more clear and obvious than a decision changed by VAR that they have done this because it’s Burnley. They are clearly so jealous of how we are playing, and how successful we’ve been this season, that they don’t want us there.

It’s petty; it’s pathetic and any respect that I might have had for their club, which had increased during those planning meetings, has now fallen to an all-time low which in effect is no respect whatsoever.

I don’t think they’ve even uttered a word on their decision to be honest but just nine days before the news was released, they did tell a fans’ group on 13th March: “The allocation of tickets for Burnley has yet to be confirmed.”

Over to our club then. I think many of us have experienced major difficulties purchasing away tickets this season so I don’t think any of us would have expected it to be an easy operation. At a meeting we attended in December, they did say they would look at the loyalty point requirement for each game given the current demand for away tickets.

They should, in my view, have increased the number of points required for Luton. They didn’t; it led to an almighty scramble with them sold out in minutes. Some supporters actually got tickets into their basket but then found they couldn’t purchase them and were left without.

Surely we’d learned our lesson. Oh no we hadn’t. The club’s website, having explained the system of selling away tickets, with four priority periods requiring 6,000 points, 4,000 points, season ticket holders and then general sale.

It then reads: “Please note: the above is an example of a priority points period. Priority periods may change dependant on the opposition, number of tickets available, and competition.”

Given that, given the allocation received, I admit to being stunned that we’d ignored that and opted for a ballot for anyone with 6,000 points or more. There are over 5,000 supporters in that category.

I’ll admit to being selfish at this point and reckon I should be somewhere near the top of the queue when it comes to away tickets. I have in excess of 13,000 points and most of the people I order for on friends and family are over 11,000 points.

I’ve also attended every away game this season. The last time I missed an away game, other than through illness or COVID restrictions was when we visited Milton Keynes for the first ever time in 2003, making the choice not to go that day in support of the Wimbledon fans who had lost their club.

Other than 1965, when my mum wouldn’t let me go to an evening kick off, I’ve never missed a Burnley game at Ewood Park since I started watching Burnley so this will be a first for me.

I remain disgusted with how Blackburn have treated us but I’m equally angered at the way Burnley, my club, have treated me. They even sent me an email this afternoon telling me I was in the ballot, this after the ballot had been completed and many had been informed whether they had been successful or not. I then received another email which starts: “Tony, we are delighted to confirm that you have been successful in our ticket ballot.” Unable to purchase tickets, I phoned the ticket office only to be told that the email was not for me, not even for someone called Tony. I subsequently received an email telling me I had been unsuccessful.

Three days before the game, I’ll be alongside members of West Yorkshire Clarets on the Clarets for Foodbanks bins, trying to collect items to help those in so much need. That effort receives little or no support from Burnley FC in the Community any longer. When we asked the club for some publicity for it, our Director of Fan Engagement Russell Ball told us: “It’s nothing to do with us.” That flies in the face of some of the corporate comments that come out of Turf Moor from the highest level.

Now, I can’t even go to Ewood. For those going, please don’t buy anything, don’t give them one penny more than you need to.

Today, I really do feel so let down by the football club that I’ve supported for over sixty years.

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