Talking Football - Away fans should be given fair allocations

editorial image

This is an issue that should matter to fans of all sides.

So says the Football Supporters’ Federation in their latest newsletter which highlights how ‘persistent standing’ by away fans has led to Manchester United receiving only 1,700 tickets for their visit to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on the last day of the season.

It is described as “a nonsense decision”.

Under Barclays Premier League rules, 3,000 tickets could have been made available but that number has been slashed for the potential title decider.

“This is the wrong decision for all fans, not just supporters of the Red Devils. Next time, it could be you...”

The FSF make it clear that this isn’t just a problem at Sunderland or for Manchester United’s away support.

It’s the third successive year that United have been given a reduced allocation at Sunderland and last season 12 Premier League clubs also cut their away tickets.

There is a very strong argument, of course, that visiting supporters at Old Trafford should also receive more tickets.

It seems strange to have different rules in the FA Cup where home clubs are forced to give a bigger allocation to away fans.

Obviously that generates a better atmosphere and you have to wonder why it can’t happen for league games.

The Stadium of Light’s capacity is 49,000 and the only time they have come close this season to reaching that figure was against Newcastle United in Sunderland’s first home match.

You would assume that the derby-day drama ensured there was ‘persistent standing’ during those 90 minutes as well.

Realistically there will always be standing in seated areas, particularly when fans are caught up in the excitement of what is happening on the pitch.

There is a culture, especially among away fans in the top flight, to remain on their feet in all-seater stadia.

Surely that is safer than imposing a restriction on the number of tickets and opening up the possibility of rival supporters being in the home end.

Police and stewards must be able to deal with supporters standing in access aisles or blocking the view of those who wish to sit.

The FSF are already running a campaign with the belief that supporters should have the choice to stand in a safe area.