Chelsea(a) allocation - legal challenge - update

Last week we commenced a legal challenge to the reduced ticket allocation decision for the Chelsea away game on Saturday 22 October as covered in our WEBSITE POST HERE

We have now received formal legal responses from both the Metropolitan Police and Hammersmith & Fulham Council. They have provided a much more detailed chronology of the events that led to the allocation decision. Suffice to say, none of their explanations are adequate, in our view. They remain grounded in a starting point that football fans are a problem, and a public order threat to be managed, and they show no evidence of thinking of the needs of fans.

Legally, their defence lies in a technicality stating that there was no “decision” to be legally challenged as the conclusion was reached by consensus amongst the parties involved. This makes pursuing a judicial review more difficult and our lawyers advise us that the chances of success are much less certain.

With the game now only 5 days away pursuing it now would risk creating more uncertainty for match-going fans and in the event that the decision was reversed the Club would potentially have to re-sell an additional 600+ tickets at very short notice. 

Furthermore the legal costs of proceeding to a court hearing are very significant and likely more than double for the loser who may be required to pay both sides costs. We understand the total costs could be in the region of £40k.

Given the greater uncertainty of success, the short time remaining before the game and the cost risk we have taken the decision not to proceed to a court hearing on this occasion.

However, we have taken a significant step in creating greater scrutiny of the process and all parties will be aware we are ready to challenge such decisions in future should they occur again. It is unfortunate in this case that time pressure was also a significant factor but this was extraordinary. We have made the point to Councils and police forces up and down the country that we are scrutinising these allocation decisions. And if we are treated unfairly, we won’t hesitate to challenge them again. 

It is clear that:
These decisions need to be made much further in advance of the game in question.
The risk assessments and decisions should be published - albeit with any sensitive information redacted.
Fans must be represented in the room when these decisions are made.

What this process, and the detailed chronology we have forced out of the authorities, has revealed is just how little say fans have in all of this. It has highlighted the lack of formal process, the lack of accountability for reductions and then both the power of the police and conversely the lack of voice that fans have. That is a bigger issue, and one we now intend to work with the Football Supporters Association alongside fellow fan groups from other clubs to find a resolution. It is clear that fans, particularly away fans, should have representation in this process when they are the ones who are most impacted. Whether that would require legislation or could be achieved by agreement is yet to be determined.

We will continue to update you on further developments.

Thanks for your continued support.

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