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Arsenal allocation furore rumbles on

Questions still remain over Arsenal's decision to slash Everton's away allocation for the upcoming FA Cup quarter-final.

Michael Regan

The decision of the 'Arsenal Safety Advisory Group' to reduce Everton's entitled allocation from 9,000 to a little over 5,200 has caused plenty of debate and consternation in recent days.

The ASAG say it is for safety reasons, mainly due to the fact any extra allocation would require to be seated in the upper tier of the stadium.

This is, of course, ridiculous, as Coventry City were able to have 8,000 fans in their fourth round encounter just fine while Chelsea had their full allocation in the Capital One Cup last autumn.

Yet Tottenham, Liverpool and now Everton have all had their allocations cut in the FA Cup, with no specific reason given other than the generic safety announcement.

Some Arsenal fans have pointed out that some Everton fans threw smoke bombs during the 1-1 draw at the Emirates in December and this was some sort of punishment.

I acknowledge that pyros should not be used in football grounds. Yes, they look really cool but I thought smoking looked cool as a kid and look what that does! The reality is though they do pose a danger to other supporters and should be stamped out.

However, does that justify such a savage cut in supporter numbers? Isn't that a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? And what good would that do in tackling smoke bombs?

It is the responsibility of the Arsenal stewarding team to search supporters before they enter the ground while Everton should educate their own fans about the use of pyro (which they have done, repeatedly).

The majority of match going of Evertonians are being punished for the actions of a small minority. And as cutting the allocation is not the answer to the issue of smoke bombs, they are being punished for no reason.

There is also the theory that somehow away supporters in the upper tier are a danger to safety. This means that home fans sat there would be well behaved then, yes? Wrong. As that video proves.

And what about people at gigs held at the stadium, boozing and dancing in the upper tiers? If it was that dangerous up there then there shouldn't be anyone in the upper tier at all. But given this is a state-of-the-art stadium that argument is redundant.

Then there is the money angle.

The match has been named as a category 'B' fixture, meaning away fans - and all fans in the lower tier in fact - would be charged £35.50.

Fans in the upper tier though are charged more, upwards of £50. Why charge Everton fans £35.50 up there when you can charge home fans more? The maths is simple.

The Gunners claim it is not their decision it is the ASAG's, though given it is their club and their stadium I'm sure they could have a significant say if they want to. They are just hiding behind the ASAG, who in turn are hiding behind the vague smokescreen (no pun intended.....ok pun intended) of 'safety' when it appears there are clearly other reasons at play.

Sadly the incidents at the Premier League game last December have given Arsenal ammunition should Everton seek to take this issue further, meaning we are unlikely to see the allocation change no matter how much we moan or how many letters the mayor sends to Arsenal.

It does, though, set a worrying precedent that may well see the away allocation for Arsenal and other major Premier League sides cut in the future.

Yes you could say it is tit-for-tat and a bit petty but we have seen a similar issue with Manchester United and Liverpool fans recently, each taking turn to slash supporters' allocations.

What we can do, as supporters, is ensure we do the club proud at away games, get behind the players and not give rival clubs ammunition should they try and take our ticket allocation away in the future.