CHESTER FC have courted controversy after designating Tuesday’s FA Cup Second Round Replay against Barnsley as all-ticket.
This requires fans to buy their tickets in advance with none available on match-day at the turnstiles. The Club have since made tickets also available on Tuesday, but only till 1.00 pm.
Blues supporter Jason Walker said of the decision: “If you are a Chester fan who lives over 100 miles away, how do I just “pop down the club” and buy a ticket! This is a total let-down and a joke!
Can the club not do anything here? Accept payment over the phone even? Surely there are many exiles in this position who would otherwise have gone to this game!”
‘Exiles’ is the name given to supporters who have moved from the city of Chester, but still attend games. They have a particular cause for frustration at the all-ticket decision, as they would have to arrive earlier in order to make the replay.
Russ Dead said: “The gate will be less than 2,500 for this now. Absolutely clueless decision here, we’ll look an embarrassment in front of the cameras”.
Another fan, Tommy Jones, said: “Can’t understand this one at all, it would have only been 4,000 tops without all-ticket, now it will be 3,000 at best”.
The decision was made after the club met with the Safety Advisory Group, which includes the council, the emergency services, and building control.
The group monitors risk management and public safety in planned events, and the Swansway stadium came under its scrutiny.
Ian Callister, spokesman for Cheshire West and Chester Council, said the Safety Advisory Group was “working closely with the management of Chester Football Club to resolve a number of outstanding safety issues”.
“Public safety is paramount. Consequently, it was decided to implement a temporary reduction of the capacity at the Swansway stadium to 4,168″.
Chester FC later released a statement regarding the fans’ concern, saying the stadium is “currently operating at a reduced capacity whilst essential on-going safety and maintenance works and procedures are completed following a recent inspection of the stadium by the council”.
“We are working closely with the Council to address any safety concerns and we currently have contractors on site undertaking remedial works to infrastructure which has suffered from a lack of investment and maintenance in earlier years”.
“Obviously, this has come as a blow to us at a crucial time and we are doing everything we can to minimise inconvenience to our fans by extending opening hours both over the weekend and on Monday evening, in addition to our normal selling times”.
“Tickets will also be available on the Tuesday up to 1.00pm and we are also making arrangements to accommodate fans who live a long distance away.”
Chester will host League 1 outfit Barnsley at 19:45 on Thursday, after battling well to hold them to a goalless draw at the Oakwell Stadium in the original tie.
Victory would see them through to the Third Round and facing Middlesbrough, who are flying high and sitting fourth in the Championship.