Date:Thursday March 29 2007
Manchester United will get 200 less tickets than Watford for the two clubs' FA Cup semi-final clash at Villa Park.
United have been granted 17,600 tickets for the game at our favourite semi-final (and league...) venue - and Watford, with an average crowd of 17,200 this season, have been granted 17,800.
Even the numbers in themselves would be enough to rise the temper of any Manchester United fan but the explanation of this strange division is surely to cause uproar. Aston Villa (whose stadium's capacity is 42,500) reportedly insisted that, for the sake of security, United's share should be cut as our fans always refuse to sit down during matches and that
This is quite ridiculous. Arsenal fans complained that in their new stadium, it's become an offence to stand up and stewards are always ready to take action against the 'culprits'. I believe they were right to complain about it as I can't see why standing up would create any kind of problem.
Furthermore, if we accept that United fans persistently refuse to sit down, then we must ask: how come it's never caused any trouble at Old Trafford, where 70,000 fans turn up week in, week out? I assume we would not get a satisfactorily answer from anyone.
But, of course, the FA is always there to console us with words of wisdom.
'We have to divide the stadium somehow, ' a spokesman said. 'If you incorporate the hospitality areas, there will actually be more Manchester United fans inside the ground.'
Oh, really? Such an argument is unlikely to satisfy United's season-ticket holders, according to Mark Longden, of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association.
'The share out is outrageous. A lot of ordinary United season ticket holders are going to be desperately disappointed.'
OK, I know we can't get the full stadium, that the FA must try to allocate about an equal number of tickets for both fans. But Longden is right: it should be assured somehow that as many season-ticket holder will be able to watch the game as possible. Watford does not have 17,000 season-ticket holders - come to think of it, they do not have such a number of regular match-attending fans. Will the tickets granted for Watford end up in the hands of hardcore Hornets fans? I doubt it.
Date:Thursday March 29 2007
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