Liverpool fans have criticised as “absurd” a decision to cut their ticket allocation for the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Arsenal on Feb. 16.
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The Reds have been allocated 5,168 tickets for at the match at the Emirates Stadium, a little more than half of what they were entitled to.
FA Cup rules state that away teams can ask for up to 15 percent of seats for all ties up to and including the quarterfinals. Under those rules, Liverpool could have had 9,000 tickets.
Liverpool have said that they asked for the full allocation, but that request was rejected following an assessment by Arsenal’s Safety Advisory Group.
The group, which consists of representatives from Arsenal, Islington Council and the local police and transport authorities, said that it decided to cut Liverpool’s allocation on safety grounds, mainly because of concerns regarding supporters standing in the upper tiers of the stadium.
Spirit Of Shankly, the Liverpool supporters’ union, said in a statement on its website: “[We] have immediately re-written to both clubs to ask them to explain this decision, given the absurdity that a football club can designate an area as being available to away supporters yet then raise fears over potential safety issues.”
The complaint follows similar criticism from Tottenham fan groups after they were also given a reduced ticket allocation for their FA Cup third-round tie at Arsenal on Jan. 4.
And fans of Arsenal and Spurs have backed Liverpool’s supporters in registering their concerns about the allocation of away tickets at the Emirates Stadium.
The supporters’ groups of all three clubs have released a joint statement pointing out that, while Tottenham and Liverpool were both offered reduced allocations of just over 5,000 tickets, League One side Coventry were offered 8,686 tickets for their fourth-round tie at Arsenal on Jan. 24.
The joint statement read: “It is with enormous disappointment that we acknowledge the allocation provided to supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the forthcoming FA Cup match against Arsenal.
“The FA Cup has always been heralded as the one of the most esteemed competitions in world football. Large away attendances and passionate followings used to ensure that any fixture was a highlight of the football calendar.
“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.”
The statement concluded: “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.”
A Liverpool spokesman said the club had made every effort to obtain the full 9,000 allocation for their fans, and had been in continued dialogue with Arsenal in an attempt to achieve this.