Oldham Athletic have banned three fans for three years for “promoting their dislike” of the League Two club.
The fans received a letter from Latics general manager Steven Brown on Monday, telling them they were banned from first team and youth games until 2024.
Bradley Knowles, one of the trio, told BBC Radio Manchester he was “shocked” to be banned by Oldham and labelled the club a “dictatorship”.
Both the club and Brown have been approached for comment.
“I’ve not done anything,” said Knowles, a member of Oldham Athletic Supporters Foundation. “I’ve just been vocal about the ownership of the club.
“It’s a dictatorship, it’s not going to stop. There are people more vocal than us. It just pushes forward the Tracey Crouch reforms that there needs to be a regulator. It’s just going to ignite supporters more.”
In the letter, Brown said he had been asked by the club’s board of directors to review the “actions of individuals that we feel are deliberately geared to harm and cause distress to the club, its fans and stakeholders”.
It alleged the three fans had “regularly displayed their desire to promote their dislike of Oldham Athletic Football Club, its management and its progression and are influencing others to do the same”.
Non-executive director Richard Bowden has resigned from his post and claimed the letter “erroneously states the board approved the action taken”.
‘It sets a dangerous precedent’
Fans have protested against owner Abdallah Lemsagam and his running of the club on a number of occasions this season.
A fan appeal to ‘Empty the Park’ was the latest protest this term, with hundreds of fans choosing not to attend their 5-5 draw with Forest Green earlier in December.
The Latics are currently without a manager after Keith Curle left on 24 November, are second-from-bottom of League Two, three points from safety, and face becoming the first club to have played in the Premier League to be relegated to the National League.
Steve Shipman, of fan group Push the Boundary, told BBC Radio Manchester the situation has set a “dangerous precedent”.
“There’s a lot of animosity towards the ownership and there has been for some time, and that’s of the club’s own making,” he said.
“If they’re going to come out and start banning supporters who are speaking against the club’s ownership then there’s probably going to be quite a few of us over the Christmas period who will be expecting a letter to drop through the door.”