Arsenal Anger Liverpool Fans After Reducing FA Cup Tickets Allocation for Safety

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20:  Dejected Arsenal fans and empty seats during defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on August 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Liverpool fans will receive just 5,168 tickets from a possible 9,000 when they visit the Emirates for the upcoming FA Cup tie with Arsenal. 

The decision to limit away fans is said to have been taken on safety grounds, as reported by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph:

Arsenal are adamant that they were forced to limit Liverpool’s FA Cup ticket allocation on safety grounds due to the late kick-off time for television and their previous experience of allowing Chelsea fans in the upper tier of the stadium.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal signals during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at Boleyn Ground on December 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers' side will now receive just 57.4 percent of the allocation they are allowed in the competition, which stats 15 percent of a stadium's capacity should be dedicated to away support.

Chelsea fans received the full amount when visiting North London for the Capital One Cup tie on Oct. 29, 2013, but their decision to stand raised safety concerns for Emirates staff, as noted in Wilson's report.

Although Liverpool applied for the full allocation in anticipation of the Feb. 16 fixture, Arsenal's Safety Advisory Group denied the request after a full assessment, reported by ESPN.

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

Arsenal initiated the same procedure during the third-round tie against Tottenham, who also received limited tickets due to similar concerns.

Supporters from all three clubs have come together to release a joint statement. A combined effort from the Spirit of Shankly, the Arsenal Supporters' Trust and Tottenham's Supporters' Trust highlights the annoyance many are feeling, as posted on the Merseyside group's website:

The FA Cup has always been heralded as the one of the most esteemed competitions in world football. Large away attendances and passionate followings used to ensure that any fixture was a highlight of the football calendar.

However, the increasing cost of attending matches, along with absurd kick off times and reduced allocations has seen attendances fall away. It would appear that the FA and the participating clubs do not hold this competition in the same regard as the fans.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23:  Football fans make their way to the stadium in heavy rain ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on December 23, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The statement also makes reference to Arsenal's FA Cup tie with Coventry, which saw the away support arrive in full numbers.

Interesting points are made about concerts that regularly take place at the Emirates—which allow fans to stand in the upper tier—while the disgruntled groups also ask why large portions of fans can safely inhibit these seats at grounds including St. James' Park, Old Trafford and Goodison Park.

Full safety specifics are yet to be fully detailed, but it's undoubtedly a major loss to see an FA Cup tie played without the away side's full support. Liverpool and Arsenal are two of England's biggest clubs, so it is disappointing to see the Emirates' effectiveness as a football theatre hampered in a traditional competition.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25:  Manager Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool looks on during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Bournemouth and Liverpool at Goldsands Stadium on January 25, 2014 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

It is also unfortunate to see Tottenham and Liverpool fans punished for behaviour from Chelsea's followers.

Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 during their last Emirates encounter. The Premier League tie, which took place on Nov. 2, posted an attendance of 60,042, as reported by Phil McNulty of BBC Sport. With ticketing measures enforced for the FA Cup battle, a number of around 55,000 should be expected next time round.