However, the increasing cost of attending matches, along with absurd kick off times and reduced allocations has seen attendances fall away. It would appear that the FA and the participating clubs do not hold this competition in the same regard as the fans.
This season has seen Arsenal draw Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City and Liverpool Football Club at the Emirates. The disparity in the way in which each game has been treated is of a major concern to us.
Tottenham Hotspur played at the Emirates on 4th January 2014. They were allocated 5,186 tickets priced in the Category A band of
£62.00 for Adults. The match kicked off at 5.15pm on a Saturday.
Coventry City played at the Emirates on 24th January 2014. They were offered an allocation of 8,686 tickets, comprising the upper and lower tier and decided to take the 5,186 lower seats only. Tickets were priced in the Category C band of £25.50 for Adults and the match kicked off at 7.45 pm on the Friday night.
Liverpool will play at the Emirates on Sunday 16th February with a 4pm kick off. They have been allocated 5,186 tickets and these have been priced in the Category B band of £35.50 each.
According the to FA Cup rules and, in particular, section 21(a), the distribution of tickets should be as follows:
In all matches preceding the Semi-Finals, the Visiting Club shall have the right to claim up to 15% of all accommodation for which tickets are issued providing these tickets are in a fully segregated area.
By allocating Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool Football Club only 5,186 tickets each, we believe that Arsenal are in contravention
of the above rule. We are of the understanding that both clubs were refused the full 15% due to the following reasons:
"Arsenal's Safety Advisory Group, which is made up of representatives from the club, local authority, police and transport,
reduced the standard 9,000 away allocation under the competition rules due to fears over safety issues from supporters standing in the upper tiers of the stadium.
Despite Liverpool's request for the full allocation of tickets, this was turned down by Arsenal, following the advice of the Safety Advisory Group. A similar request made by Tottenham Hotspur for 9,000 visiting supporters' tickets in the third-round of the FA Cup was also rejected.
Any decision on ticket allocation is made by the Safety Advisory Group; however, Liverpool Football Club have been in continued dialogue with Arsenal and made every attempt to obtain the full allocation for fans."
With this in mind, we want to raise the following:
1. The Emirates is a relatively new stadium. Given that Arsenal play in England, their stadium needs to be able to accommodate fans as per the rules of the competitions that are played in that country. If it is not deemed safe for away fans to be accommodated in this section of the ground, we would like to understand how it can be deemed safe for home supporters to be in the same section?
2. On the basis of information provided above, we are keen to understand why it would be deemed safe for Coventry fans to be seated in this section, but not Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur?
3. If it is not safe for fans to be allocated this section, how is this stadium granted a safety certificate?
4. Several league grounds in this country have an upper tier, which is often used to accommodate away supporters. These include, but are not limited to: Wembley Stadium, St James' Park, Old Trafford, Goodison Park, White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge. Are these grounds also unsafe?
5. Arsenal often hold concerts at the Emirates. Attendees at these concerts have stood, sung and danced in the upper tier. Surely this is not safe based on the information provided to date?
In the same vein as Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust raising concerns in relation to the reasoning behind their reduced allocation, Spirit of Shankly will also be issuing a Freedom of Information request to the relevant personnel in order to fully understand this situation.
We ask that the Football Association work with us on this matter to address our concerns and to ensure that the “magic of the FA Cup” is not lost forever.
Spirit of Shankly
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust
Arsenal Supporters' Trust
Black Scarf Movement