Saturday’s walkout protest was hailed a ‘success’ by campaign group GoodbyeRowley as around 30 participants exited Altrincham’s game against Stalybridge Celtic in protest of chairman Grahame Rowley.
The group are hoping for the current chairman to step aside from his position after the club were relegated last season and are in danger of a second consecutive drop this season.
There is also pressure against Rowley after numerous poorly judged public relations stunts, including controversial quotes against the supporters to the press and in match-day programmes.
Altrincham faced Celtic on a wet pitch on Saturday, and were unable to break the deadlock despite numerous chances falling the home teams’ way.
The draw means Altrincham remain at the bottom of the National League North on just 17 points, with relegation to the Evo-Stik Premier looming.
As planned, the protest group entered the stadium before kick-off with members holding two banners that read ‘Time to Go’ and ‘The Vocal Minority’. Flyers that detailed the movement were also handed out before the match to other supporters.
The group then left Moss Lane on 15 minutes to a designated exit. A reception of applause from some sections of supporters could be heard around the ground, with a number of Celtic supporters joining in.
As the group left, they directed their banners in the direction of Rowley, who was in attendance on the opposite stand.
A number of supporters joined them from across different terraces, with the total number of protesters that counted be around 30.
After the game, the group released a statement titled ‘Altrincham fans group hails successful protest against chairman’, which stated “At today’s home game with Stalybridge Celtic, a group of Altrincham fans left the ground on the 15 minute mark in protest against chairman Grahame Rowley.
‘They were protesting after a period of gross mismanagement by the chairman that has seen loyal supporters insulted in the national media, self-serving internal club reviews and a series of managerial appointments that has seen the club drop from Conference National football to the verge of the Evo-Stik League.’
‘Leaflets were given out before the game by protest organisers to fans approaching the ground, and a number of anti-Rowley banners were unveiled during the first 15 minutes.’
‘The club had attempted to negate the effect of the protest by making 2,000 tickets available to local school children. An excellent scheme, welcomed by all fans, but that unfortunately only had 40 children signed up by Thursday afternoon’
‘There is no way forward under the current chairman, and protests will be on-going until Grahame Rowley stands aside.”
The group formed soon after Rowley held a public Strategic Review Summary meeting last month at the club’s Community Sports Hall. At the meeting, it was felt by some supporters that the designated mediator and former F.A Chief Executive Ian Watmore acted in favour of the chairman, restricting opportunities for disgruntled fans to air their views.
With the meeting being considered a ‘final straw’, a group called GoodbyeRowley then set up a Twitter account and posted their planned protest online to Altrincham fan forums, setting March 18th as the day they intended to carry out a peaceful protest against Rowley.
After the protest, a spokesman for the group said. “We are of course happy that we were able to make our point in a visible and effective way, and that our protest passed peacefully and with respect towards those not wanting to walk out of a game they had paid to watch. However, as Altrincham fans, nothing about the current situation at the club is cause for celebration.’
‘That is why, as we fall to the lowest level the club has ever been at, we again call on the current chairman to stand aside allow a new chairperson to come forward and lead the club as we regroup and begin the fightback.’
#‘Grahame Rowley continues to place the blame anywhere but with himself, in an insulting attempt to cover up his complete inability to run a football club, which is the real reason fans have been reluctantly moved to protest.”
Article: Jacque Talbot (@Jac_Talbot)