Saturday, 7 May 2011

FA Cup fury: Manchester City fans fume as Stoke handed over 2000 extra final tickets

Wembley Stadium Wembley Stadium
Manchester City fans are fuming after missing out on the last 2,300 FA Cup final tickets - which were given to opponents Stoke instead.

And supporters have accused the Football Association of fouling up over their allocation for next Saturday's Wembley showpiece.

Both clubs were originally handed just over 25,000 tickets for the final, City's first for 30 years.

But now Stoke will have more than 2,000 extra seats to sell to their fans due to the way in which the FA redistributes so-called 'neutral' places.

That is despite the fact that the Staffordshire club have only 21,000 season-ticket holders, compared to City's 36,000.

And Stoke officials have claimed that they got the extra tickets after successfully lobbying the FA.

City sold out the last of their cup final allocation on Wednesday morning ­ and there are fears that Blues fans desperate to be at Wembley will now try to buy tickets on the black market, and could end up in the Stoke section of the ground.

Kevin Parker, general secretary of the City Supporters Club, is critical of the FA.

He said: "My gut reaction is that the FA don¹t seem to have planned this particularly well.

"I know there will be thousands of City fans who will be aggrieved that they haven' been given an extra allocation and Stoke have ­- especially as City's average attendance is higher, and we have more season-ticket holders.

"I don't begrudge Stoke fans their extra tickets for the final, but it's galling that the same opportunity hasn't been given to City's supporters.

"It means now that the search for FA Cup final tickets goes on for City's fans. I'm sure they will do their best to get tickets at face value, but that looks very unlikely now."

Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes hailed the FA's decision to release the extra tickets.

"We stated our case to the FA for more tickets when we received the initial allocation, so we are delighted that this has been successful in securing the additional number of tickets now," Scholes said.

"It was a concern to us that so many who had been among the 34,000 at Wembley for the semi-final [against Bolton] would be unable to get a ticket for the big day, especially as it is the first time the club has reached the final in its 148-year history."

An FA spokesman told the M.E.N. that the reallocated tickets were originally designated for their 'Football Family', which includes non-league clubs and grass-roots football organisations.

He added that those tickets were originally spilt 50-50, with anyone applying told to state whether they would be supporting City or Stoke.

"Both clubs were originally given 25,000 tickets each, with the rest going to the Football Family," the spokesman said.

"At the FA Cup final, there is no neutral section as such, so applicants were given the choice of being in the Stoke end or the Manchester City end.

"The Manchester City allocation of Football Family tickets sold out, but 2,300 tickets for the Stoke section were returned. Those tickets have now been passed on to Stoke ­ but it doesn't mean there will be more Stoke fans in the ground than Manchester City fans."

Parker, though, has argued that the FA's allocation system could be a recipe for trouble.

He said: "The problem is that you could have Stoke and City fans mixed together on the day.

"I'm certainly not saying that either set of supporters would be looking for trouble, but in a hotbed like that, there is a potential for it."

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