Section 22.2, Capital One Cup official rules: “In all Cup Competition matches, the Visiting Club shall have the right to claim 10 per cent of all tickets reserved or otherwise sold in advance (any variation to that figure shall be subject to the consent of the Management Committee).
The regulation above has been causing grief for Blues fans ever since the announcement of the third round draw a couple of weeks ago and it is one that will continue even after the game has been played.
The argument? That Birmingham City, on FA charter rules are legally allowed 10% of the allocation for their third round tie at Villa Park on Tuesday 22nd September. Villa Park holds around 42,000 fans, meaning Blues should be entitled to at least 4000 tickets. Instead they have been allocated 2800, far lower than their rightful quantity.
The debate has rumbled on for a couple of weeks ago, and there are three main arguments. The first is on the Villa side- that Birmingham fans will be difficult to handle and that cutting their ticket allowance will assist the safe stewarding of the game.
The second is from the West Midlands police force, who undoubtedly want to restrict the amount of trouble on the night, and probably want as few Blues fans as possible in attendance.
The third viewpoint is from the Blues side. That the club are entitled to the 10% regardless of the opposition. Villa were cheered on by over 4000 in 2010 when they were beaten, despite St Andrews only holding 28,000.
It means lots of Blues fans will miss out on tickets, because of the reduced capacity. But whatever the allocation was- it was always going to be hard to get a ticket, whatever level you come under in the away ticketing scheme.
I called the ticket office earlier today, and the lady said the tickets won’t even get to Season ticket holders, let alone the general public- because of the shoddy allocation.
This leads me to another point that could prove a thorn in Villas and the WMP’s thinking. Blues fans will undoubtedly start trying to get tickets for the home end. And for those that say “no they won’t”, trust me- they will. This is the biggest game for the club and fans in years and people will be desperate to watch, cheer and shout.
West Brom were allocated over 6000 tickets in last season’s FA Cup- so where is the consistency with that? I know people will rant on about it being a local derby and so forth, but the rules state that they are entitled to the tickets, end of.
Away atmosphere’s contribute just as much to the games at home, and it is a questionable decision that could be regretted on the night. Prepare for fireworks.