Statement: Safety body blocks full Stoke City allocation

Ewood Park CC Ronnie MacDonald

Stoke City supporters remain unhappy that they will not be given a full allocation of away tickets for their upcoming FA Cup fifth round match against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

All tickets for the lower tier of the Darwen End stand at Ewood Park have been sold. However, the additional away seating in the upper tier will not be made available to the club.

This follows requests from the police, who would not allow a larger allocation unless the kick-off was brought forward to lunchtime - despite Stoke fans travelling to away games in large numbers all season without incident.

Below is the full statement on the issue from FSF Chairman and Stoke City supporter Malcolm Clarke:

"The decision of the Blackburn Safety Advisory Group (SAG) on the advice of the local police to refuse Stoke City an additional allocation of tickets unless the game is moved at a late stage to an early kick-off is unjustified and unreasonable. In theory this decision is the SAG's, although in reality it is effectively a police instruction as SAGs are reluctant to go against police "advice".

"It is a matter of great concern that the police can dictate the timing of sporting events and the number of tickets which can be given to a football club. The job of the police is to police events, not control them. In recent years the problem of hooliganism by a small minority of Stoke supporters has hugely reduced, as it has across football as a whole, and it is regrettable that the police do not recognise this.

"Their actions have increased rather than decreased the possibility of any difficulties in policing the match. It is not only Stoke fans who are affected. It will also deny Blackburn Rovers additional revenue, and leave thousands of empty seats which could have been filled by paying customers."

Thanks to Ronnie MacDonald for the image used in this article, reproduced here under CC license.