Since the Saddlers’ New Year’s Day loss at Plymouth, momentum has gathered on social media to stage a protest during the game against Oxford on January 13.
A vocal section of the club’s fan base has grown frustrated with how boss Jon Whitney is managing the team. And they have also expressed concerns about the overall ambition of the club – with some believing the board lack the desire needed to reach the Championship.
Yesterday the board of the Walsall Supporters Trust voted seven to two in favour of backing the planned protest.
A statement said: “Over the last few weeks, it has become obvious that more and more fans have become disillusioned with the way they perceive the club is being run.
“This is not just a matter of results on the pitch and an anti- Jon Whitney movement, although he, himself, can be seen to be a symptom of the problem,
“It is also about the perception that the club has abandoned its stated ambitions to become, eventually, an established Championship club, with the so-called DNA of the team abandoned.”
The planned protest will see fans stand outside the Banks’s Stadium instead of purchasing tickets for the Oxford match. Season ticket holders are asked to attend the game, but leave in the 80th minute to join then join up with the other supporters outside.
“The Walsall Supporters Football Trust generally agree with the sentiments expressed by the fellow fans organising the protest,” the statement continued.
“We encourage all fans to join this peaceful protest to show that now is time for the club to affirm the ambition that we all want.”
Ian Astbury, a Walsall Supporters Trust board member, added: “The fans have had enough – it feels like we are sliding towards League Two.
“Both on the pitch and off the pitch we should be more competitive in this division.
“For some reason Jon Whitney is entrenched in his position as manager.
“While financially we continue to operate on one of the lowest budgets in the division despite selling Rico Henry and Tom Bradshaw.
“We should be doing better and there is an apathy creeping in. The feeling of sadness is palpable around the ground.”
Olly Beckett, who has followed Walsall for 54 years, is behind the planned protest.
He said: “This protest is not about shouting abuse or hurling insults, it’s about saving this football club.
“The identity of our club is slowing being eroded away.
“People travel up and down the country supporting this team because they love the club. They are Saddlers through and through.
“But we are not being run as a football club anymore. We are being run as a commercial business.
“And we, the supporters, aren’t getting anything back.”