Forest Green’s Dale Vince ‘accidently’ funding Just Stop Oil’s football protests

Everton’s match against Newcastle had to be stopped early in the second half, and there were also incidents at Tottenham and Arsenal

Jim van Wijk
Wednesday 23 March 2022 16:37 GMT
A protester took direction action at Goodison Park (Richard Sellers/PA)
A protester took direction action at Goodison Park (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)

Forest Green chairman Dale Vince is amused to be “accidentally funding the disruption of Premier League games” by Just Stop Oil protesters after revealing he has given money to the organisation.

Everton’s match against Newcastle on March 17 had to be halted early in the second half after a man ran on to the Goodison Park pitch and strapped himself to the goalpost with a cable tie around his neck.

There was a significant delay while security staff attempted to remove the protestor, who was wearing an orange T-shirt supporting the group. He was eventually freed using a pair of bolt cutters before being led from the ground by police.

Merseyside Police later confirmed Louis McKechnie, 21, of Claremount Road, Weymouth had been charged with pitch encroachment and aggravated trespass. He is set to attend Liverpool Community Justice Court on April 19.

There were also protests at the Emirates Stadium during Arsenal’s match against Liverpool on March 16, while two people were removed by stewards as they ran on to the pitch and towards goal in the second half of Tottenham’s game against West Ham.

Climate change campaigner Vince, who founded green energy supplier Ecotricity, revealed he had been approached by organisers of the campaign group to help with funding.

While he had no personal input into the planned direct action, the Forest Green owner said he could empathise with the strong feelings behind the environmental issues being brought to public attention.

Asked if he knew who was funding the group, Vince told TalkSPORT: “It’s me actually.

“I had a chat a few weeks ago with the people who founded this, they live in Stroud, people that I know.

“They reached out and said, ‘We want to start a new campaign, would you help us with a bit of cash?’ And I did.

“What they didn’t say to me was that they were planning to disrupt football matches, which I find amusing and I only bumped into this story in the past couple of days anyway because I am more interested in League Two.

“It is amusing to me that I seem to have my fingerprints on this accidentally.”

Vince continued: “I am accidentally funding the disruption of Premier League games.

“I am willingly funding the organisation. When I spoke to them they didn’t say to me, ‘This is what we plan to do’. They didn’t need to – I don’t try to control what people do when I help them with their campaigns.

“They haven’t asked for any more money, I think it was £10,000 to get them going or something like that.

“I support their aims – and I don’t really have a problem with what they are doing as long as it is non-violent protest.

Protestors disrupted the Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)
Protestors disrupted the Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

“Disruption is part and parcel of protest, it is how you get attention and draw attention to really big issues which transcend football and transcend most aspects of life.”

Vince also questioned environmental policies such as further gas exploration in the North Sea as well as fracking and people being pushed into “fuel poverty” by rising energy costs.

“What are you going to do about (all) that when nothing is being done? Get out and protest,” he said. “If you upset some people, you upset some people, but you inform some people at the same time.”

Vince, though, is not about to take similar direct action at the Fully Charged New Lawn, which promotes sustainability and has an organic pitch.

“I don’t think I would protest at my own football match, because look what Forest Green stands for,” the Rovers chairman said.

The Football Association has been contacted for comment on Vince’s statements.

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