Ecotricity owner Dale Vince has said he was unaware of Just Stop Oil’s plans for the viral protest during a World Snooker Championship match on Monday, but insisted he is fully supportive of their mission and method.
is the latest high-profile sporting event to be disrupted by protesters after a Just Stop Oil activist poured a packet of orange powder paint over a table on Monday evening, forcing a 24-hour suspension in the match between Gloucester’s Robert Milkins and Joe Perry.
A 25-year-old man and 52-year-old woman have been bailed until 15th June after arrest by South Yorkshire Police on suspicion of causing criminal damage at the Crucible Theatre.
Vince, who is also the chairman of Forest Green Rovers, has been open about donating money to the group and reiterated his support on Talksport’s radio station.
“I had nothing to do with it, I saw it on the news with everybody else. They never ask me to fund specific protests, I just give them money to help them do what they’re doing,” said Vince.
“I back what they do. They’re doing brilliant work, they put themselves in harm’s way to make a really important point. We’ve got to stop drilling for oil and gas, our government is doing the opposite.
“We’re in the teeth of a climate crisis, this is a really important issue and bit of disruption is a price worth paying. People are being killed around the world by the climate crisis right now and I think that’s more serious than a bit of sporting disruption.”
Protests at sporting events have been at the forefront of national discussion in the last week after animal rights activist entered the track and caused a delay to the start of Aintree’s Grand National.
Former World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn has condemned the protests, calling sport an “easy target” for protesters to cause distress and disruption.
“In my mind, it didn’t do their cause anything but harm. They’re not making a point at all. They’re just disruptive and when protest is so disruptive that it stops people getting value for money and having bought tickets, they are robbed of that opportunity. It is a form of theft,” said Hearn.
Vince disagreed with Hearn’s statement on air and suggested that that viewpoint was misinterpreting the mission of Just Stop Oil’s activism.
“It’s not a political issue, this isn’t sport being used for political ends, this is a life and death issue for everybody on this planet, especially for future generations. What we do now will impact the next 100 years and how this ‘sits’ with other people, I really don’t care,” said Vince.
“This is my view and this is what I believe in. We have to do much more than we’re currently doing in our country, because right now we’re opening new coal mines and new gas and oil fields, we’re expanding airports and we have a massive road building programme.
“There are a lot of people that back what Just Stop Oil are doing, we (are) talking about the climate crisis on sport radio and that is an achievement, to get this issue in front of people.
“The same was probably said about the Suffragettes, that ‘it’s pointless’ and ‘they should choose other means of protest’ etc.
“The science is there on the climate crisis, we have to stop burning fossil fuels, let alone exploring for new sources of them. We’ve got zero carbon targets in this country but no policies to hit them.”