So we got the tie a lot of fans wanted, an away game against Sutton United of the National League (formerly known as the Conference). As Arsenal fans celebrated a chance to visit a lower league ground, stand on the terraces, it slowly dawned on everyone that we will get next to no tickets.
With Sutton’s Gander Green Lane stadium holding just 5,013, Arsenal will get around in the region of 750 tickets.
When Leeds visited at the weekend, they got a grand total of 750 tickets.
With Arsenal having around 1,200 on the away ticketing scheme (basically an away season ticket), tickets for the game will be put into a ballot as per the terms and conditions of the scheme. This means many of the fans who ‘celebrated’ and were looking forward to an away trip to Sutton will miss out.
There is some talk that Sutton United could apply to move the game to a bigger venue – likely to be Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park. However, in 2003, after Farnborough switched a 4th round tie against Arsenal to Highbury, the FA Challenge Cup committee slamed the door on Cup’s rogue venue-switchers.
This would seemingly make it impossible for the game to be switched. However, reading through the 2003 article, there still might be some options open to allow more fans to watch the tie:
No club will be able to benefit financially from such a switch
So as long as no one benefits financially, that the income taking from the move remains the same as the income the clubs would have received had the tie not been moved, then a move could possible still be open.
Those who move for the wrong reasons could be barred from the competition the following year.
What are the wrong reasons? Clearly the wrong reason is financial. So what are the right reasons? The right reasons will always be ‘on health and safety grounds’. Whilst Sutton United have a safety certificate enabling them to have 5,000 at their ground, what would happen if 10,000 fans converge on the area to watch the game locally? Would the police be able to control that? Fans attempting to jib in, force their way into a ground that can not be secured. It could be a massive health and safety risk.
The tie could possibly therefore be moved on police advice.
If a cup tie still had to be switched it would go to the nearest suitable neutral venue, rather than the opponents’ home ground.
So a tie can be switched to the nearest suitable home ground. In this case, it would be Crystal Palace.
If games are still moved, any excess money earned by the participants would go into the central pool.
So to stop people benefiting financially from a change of venue, any extra revenue generated go’s into a central pool and then distributed to all clubs.
The door is clearly open for a venue change. Sutton United and Arsenal will simply have to present to the police that holding such a big game at such a small stadium presents a health and safety and security risk.
Fan set for refund
As part of an Arsenal season ticket, fans automatically get the first 7 FA Cup / Champions League home games – this is why Arsenal always appear to have vastly more expensive season tickets than other clubs; we get 26 games.
If Arsenal do not play 7 home FA Cup / Champions League games, fans are then given a discount off next years season ticket.
With an away draw against Sutton making it 3 away FA Cup ties in a row for the Gunners, it leaves Arsenal fans having had just 4 of their cup tickets. The 3 games in the group stages of the Champions League and Bayern Munich in the first knock out stage.
In total, Arsenal have a possibility of playing another 4 games at home in cup competitions:
- 6th round replay if we draw away to Sutton
- FA Cup QF / QF replay if we get through the 6th round
- Champions League QF
- Champions League SF
Now you make your mind up on the likelihood of any of these happening.
The club bean counters will be getting nervous at this point. The cost of refunding 3 cup games to fans could be as high as £9,000,000.
Of course, the club (and fans) will be hoping we get through to the FA Cup QF and Champions League semi-final. This will also come with a cost, however, as the club are likely to make these games category A, and adding a charge to fans season tickets for next year.
Deadline day Arsenal transfers
Nothing to see here. Move along please.
So Arsenal enter a defining few days in this years title race. Victory tonight over Watford and a Chelsea defeat at Anfield blows the race right open again, and sets it up nicely for the weekends game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
For the 1st time in a long, long time, Arsene Wenger has almost a fully fit squad to pick from, with only Santi Cazorla out injured, Granit Xhaka suspended and Mohamed Elneny in Africa
Having only just come back from injury, I would be very surprised if Theo Walcott or Danny Welbeck start. The former playing 90 minutes at the weekend against Southampton.
The biggest headache for Wenger will be whether to give Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain another run out in the middle of the park after a Man of the Match performance against Southampton, or revert to what he knows and have a Coquelin, Ramsey, Ozil axis. I think he will play it safe and go for the later. Although he will start Oxlade-Chamberlain on the wing.
Hopefully Stevie Boulds Red & White Army makes it 2 wins from 2.
Have a good day and stay warm and dry later.
Up the Arsenal.