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M.U.S.T RESPONDS TO ARSENAL FA CUP TICKET ALLOCATION CUT
M.U.S.T (Manchester United Supporters Trust) RESPONDS TO ARSENAL FA CUP TICKET ALLOCATION CUT
We are hugely disappointed by the decision to uphold Arsenal's self-interested and hypocritical near-halving of the 15% ticket allocation that should be provided under FA Cup rules. In recent seasons they have routinely heavily reduced the allocation for ties involving Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs as well as United, on 'safety advice' related to standing, while offering full or near full allocations to other clubs including Lincoln in 2017 and Brentford earlier this season, with no restrictions on standing. The links between these inconsistent decisions and the related demand for tickets by their own supporters is self-evident. Moreover they have failed to develop contingency plans and solutions including additional away capacity in their lower tier despite knowing about the apparent safety risks conveniently related to all of their main rivals.
The FA must themselves be concerned by this blatant disrespect for their own rule. The vibrant atmosphere created by a larger away supporter presence is part of the 'magic of the FA Cup' that is already suffering as a result of other decisions including televising and rescheduling matches - although ironically 11,000 United supporters were willing to meet the resulting travel challenge and now more than half will be denied the opportunity.
We are grateful for the robust and protracted actions by our club to challenge Arsenal's decision. MUST also made its own direct approach to the FA to intervene. Their ultimate decision, to bow to Safety Advisory Group (SAG) advice was inevitable, given Arsenal's intransigence and the limited time to resolve, but this must now be the trigger for urgent action to prevent further abuse and manipulation. Arsenal are not the only club taking unreasonable advantage of SAG advice to seek competitive or financial advantage, although they may be the most flagrant, and it has to stop.
At the same time we recognise supporter challenges around our own club’s FA approved allocation cap that is set below 15%. It should be noted though that all clubs are offered that allocation in full and this is higher than is currently provided by any stadium other than Wembley itself.
We therefore call on the FA to instigate a review of the application of the 15% rule with full consultation with all interested parties including supporter groups. Solutions need to take due account of safety requirements but should not enable clubs to routinely or selectively slash allocations. In essence all clubs should have pre-approved configuration and operational plans to provide for occasional expansion of away sections in line with FA and other competition rules.
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