Liverpool fans are in uproar over the decision made by Arsenal to only offer 5,168 of a possible 9,000 for the fifth round FA Cup tie. Despite FA Cup rules stating that a club may request up to 15% of seats, Arsenal, as in the game against Tottenham, have reduced the allocation based on safety grounds. And Liverpool only have themselves to blame.
There previous poor behaviour at the Emirates is one of the two main causes as to why they have been offered almost half of what they should have been. It is all their own fans fault.
Back in 2008, Arsenal played Liverpool in the Champions League Quarter Final. The match was marred by trouble outside of the ground between Liverpool fans and the police. It is the only time there has been a major safety infringement at the Emirates Stadium.
The issues surrounded Liverpool fans turning up with fake tickets, and in many cases, without tickets. The police attempted to control this by forcing Liverpool fans to remain outside of the stadium whilst they hand checked tickets as they went through the turnstiles. This resulted in a backlog of fans outside the stadium, and many fans missing the game.
Rather than Liverpool fans blaming the fans who turned up with fake tickets, they blamed the police. In the video above, their demand seems to be simple ‘Let us in, we do not care’ despite the obvious safety issues created by too many fans being squashed into too small an area. The police made the decision to keep fans outside of the stadium, in the vast concrete surrounding the stadium, whilst they removed those fans with fake tickets and checked those fans going in that they had the correct tickets. The police were correct in their actions. Liverpool fans were the ones in the wrong.
Fast forward 6 years, and Liverpool fans behaviour has not changed. Up and down the country they ‘jib’ in. They did it in Athens & Istanbul. They seem to have no care for their own, or others safety, as they succumb to their own selfishness to see the game. Were they to behave like human beings, rather than animals, they may well of got their 9,000 tickets. But due to their own behaviour, they have had their allocation cut. It is all their fault.
Rather than blame Arsenal, blame the police, blame Islington Council, Liverpool fans need to take a look at themselves. Take a look at those standing next to them. Standing around them. It is the fans who cheat and lie their way into the stadium who create the safety issues we saw in 2008. It shows Liverpool fans can not be trusted when given big allocation’s, and it should not be a surprise that they have their allocation cut.
The other issue surrounds standing. Liverpool fans stand – as do many away fans. The problem is in the FA Cup at the Emirates is when clubs take up the full 9,000 allocation, they get the upper tier. The upper tier is steep and clearly unsafe for standing.
A club can only put on a game once a safety certificate has been issued by local council, in Arsenal’s case Islington. For the Tottenham game, Islington wrote to the club explaining that they would not issue a safety certificate if Arsenal planned to give Tottenham the upper tier:
RE: ARSENAL V TOTTENHAM – FA CUP THIRD ROUND
Further to our discussions, I write to confirm my views on the allocation for Tottenham fans for
The Safety Team did a detailed evaluation of risks earlier in the year regarding issues posed by
having supporters on the upper tier. [REDACTED] the points need to be considered for each
occasion when use is an option. This identified significant risks with persistent standing and
ability to steward and police potentially disorderly and violent behaviour on the upper tier.
The cup game against Chelsea proved this to be a correct assumption. Very few of the
spectators on the upper tier sat and those who wanted to were unable to do so unless in the
front rows of seats. The front two rows had been netted, as we did for previous cup games, but
this was breached by spectators wanting to sit and get out of the crowd, or by others leading
chanting and singing. The increased level of stewarding and policing had no impact on
behaviour and attempts to throw missiles onto the Arsenal fans below were witnessed. Flares
were let off in the lower tier and had this happened on the upper tier, this could have
precipitated panic amongst the standing fans.
Taking each game on its merits, I would therefore not support the use of the upper tier for away
fans for this game which I believe means restricting the allocation to 5,000. Arsenal v
Tottenham games are always categorised as high risk and this match will be no different. It has
the potential to be more significant as it’s a cup game, and therefore we can only assume that
standing and disorderly behaviour will be prevalent. Persistent standing is always a factor for
visiting Tottenham supporters. No mitigation such as leaving rows vacant at the front addresses
this so the alternative is to limit the allocation to the lower tier where the risks lessen.
I have attached the letter sent to Arsenal in March which sets out the reasons why we came to
the need to risk assess the use of the upper tier for each game. I reinforced the need to review
after the observations of the Chelsea match, especially given the recent advice of the SASG on
persistent standing, and conclude that it would not be advisable to use it for this match. As we
found from the review we did earlier in the year, this is in line with other grounds having a steep rake who undertake risk assessments of games before agreeing allocations and I understand from our SASG representative that Tottenham have taken similar decisions in relation to use of their upper tier.
It is likely that we will see the same situation, the same letter, for the Liverpool game. With Liverpool fans issues of travelling over and above their allocation, the game would be a logistical nightmare to ensure fans are sitting in the right seats. Add in the problem of Liverpool standing in the upper tier, and their enjoyment of flairs, the natural result is that they are given a lesser allocation, in the lower tier only. The will blame Arsenal, they will blame Islington, they will blame the police. But it is Liverpool fan’s who are at fault.
The worry is that with Arsenal dropping the allocation, 9,000 Liverpool fans may well still turn up, encouraged by Liverpool fan groups. This will create further problems outside the stadium and simply justify the club offering them a lower allocation. Liverpool fans, you only have yourselves to blame. But of course, you are Liverpool, and it’s never your fault…