Citing safety precautions, Arsenal have decided that Liverpool will only receive 5,186 tickets for the FA Cup fifth round clash at the Emirates on 16 February despite being eligible for 9,000.
The allocation, which is the same received by Sp*rs and Coventry* in the previous rounds of this year’s competition, ensures that all travelling supporters will be housed in the lower tier of the Clock End. The price for these tickets is set at a maximum of £35.50 with the game recently given Category B status.
The Gunners are believed to have expressed concern at the prospect of thousands of Reds fans potentially standing in the upper tier where they’d have sandwiched a band of Gooners in corporate seats. We only let that happen when we’ve continental opposition in town, because they’re all civilised with their choreographed chants and whatnot.
The spare upper tier tickets, those that aren’t already occupied by Arsenal season ticket holders, will be sold at £54 a pop to Gooners.
Liverpool fans’ group Spirit of Shankly, who’d previously joined forces with the AST and BSM to rally Arsenal to keep prices down, expressed frustration at the ‘missing’ 3,814 seats:
“In our letter to both clubs last week, we made clear that as well as reduced ticket prices and consideration being taken for the impact on supporters’ travel arrangements with regards to any proposed kick-off time, that we wished to be given the full 15% allocation in line with FA rule (21(a)).
“This would amount to approximately 9,000 tickets, somewhat higher than the announced allocation. As a result, we have immediately re-written to both clubs today to ask them to explain this decision.”
We suspect Ivan Gazidis will be filing that letter in the bin, where it’ll join Kim Kallstrom’s medical records and Joe Kinnear’s CV.
If the game ends in a draw, Liverpool will be well within their rights to give Arsenal a reduced allocation, below the 15% stipulated by the FA, for the replay.
*Coventry were offered the full 9,000 tickets but after slow sales settled on the lower figure.