45 minutes ago Tottenham Hotspur announced the allocation of tickets for our much-awaited cup-tie versus Ars***l – 5186. On the face of it, that’s a big number, more than we get for league matches. The reality is, nearly half of what we are due has been stolen from us, yet another example of how fans these days are reduced to background extras for TV and cash cows as far as clubs are concerned.
As I understand it, away clubs are entitled to 15% of the tickets in FA Cup games. At Spurs we have seen season ticket holders evicted from their seats in order to accommodate this allocation in the Park Lane, surely the only club in the country that turfs out fans from its own end, thus diminishing the potential vocal support for the sake of compliance.
That’s bad enough but at least we get the same favours when we travel to other grounds, right? Wrong, at least as far as Ars***l are concerned. We should have got 9000. Instead we have 8.64%. The most amazing thing is, I wonder why we ever believed we would get our fair share in the first place.
Earlier this week, after much speculation in social media, I heard that Spurs were going to apply for the full allocation. We also heard that it was to be a 5.15 kick-off at the behest of ITV. Everyone rolled their eyes – hard-fought derby kicking off after an afternoon’s drinking time. Madness.
In today’s statement, the club confirm they did indeed apply for the full whack. They continue:
“Following lengthy conversations, Ars***l Footbal Club has advised us that on safety and security grounds, experienced at previous cup fixtures this season, they are only able to provide an allocation of 5186”
It goes on to make some mealy-mouthed points coming straight from the Emirates press office about segregation, ‘not possible’, but I can’t be bothered to read them again let alone type them out.
This won’t take long. TV moved the game to a time which in my view jeopardized the safety of fans planning to attend and made safety considerations even more of an issue than they were before.
The clubs accepted this because it means a hefty fee. It may well be a contractual arrangement, I don’t know and would be happy for someone to tell me, one way or the other.
So television makes the rules and the clubs go along with it like itsy-bitsy cuddly-wuddly ducklings trailing along meekly behind mother mallard. ITV can take a decision that boosts their advertising revenue and we the fans suffer for it.
Health and safety is the prime consideration at football matches. I was at Hillsborough for the Spurs v Wolves semi-final, pushed right down the front. I’ve been going to football since 1967 through the bad old days. Don’t lecture me about safety.
But if safety were such an over-riding concern, don’t kick off at 5.15. It isn’t you see the prime consideration. Safety comes into play only after the money has been sorted out.
It also provides a convenient smokescreen for clubs. Look at the wording of the Gunners’ statement: ‘only able to provide’, ‘not possible’. Like a series of mysterious health and safety gods have prevailed, compelling them to make a decision that was out of their worldly powers. No – they sat down and took this decision. People. Flesh and blood human beings. Don’t know who, lucky for me really because a libel suit would surely be coming my way if I speculated, as really, I could not have stopped myself.
Further proof, if any were needed, that supporters come bottom of the dungheap when it comes to the modern game. Like I say, my excitement at this plum cup draw distorted my perceptions and made me consider the possibility, the merest possibility, that we might get our fair whack.
I understand that there were significant crowd problems when Chel**a visited recently. So how come Spurs fans are punished for that?
I may be able to get a ticket, certainly could if there were an allocation of 9000. There’s a degree of self-interest in this column therefore. But you know what, if I hadn’t, I would have been equally proud of the noise from my fellow Spurs fans who had made it, because they would have brought the wretched soulless red and white bowl tumbling to the earth.
They didn’t want us there, we know that, but that club are not the only ones to blame for this filthy slimeball of a decision. When they come to the Lane, they can be allocated one of the West Stand boxes, seems proportionate. Let’s have a sweepstake as to a) how soon the ITV commentators go on about the atmosphere at this great old derby and b) how many times they mention the atmosphere during 90 minutes. That’s all we are to them, background noise and sound effects.
This is a great old fixture, genuine, real, tangible. It has generated huge excitement and will create interest in a cup competition the real fans love but it is less interesting as each season passes. Want to know why? Because of decisions like this. These derbies will die if things go on like this. Money, TV and executives killing the game. Our game.
The Trust and Spirit of Shankly from Liverpool are protesting on Sunday against high ticket prices, details on the Trust’s site in the links list to your right. Stay behind for 20 minutes after the match. It’s not much but it is doing something. Let them hear what we think.