Football: Crowd concerns at Nationwide climax

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The Independent Online
THE Football League has pleaded for sanity and good behaviour from fans at Sunday's Nationwide League climax.

Fears of crowd problems at the relegation clash between Stoke and Manchester City and promotion-chasing Sunderland's visit to Swindon have prompted the League to beg supporters not to wreck English football's improved image in the eyes of the sporting world.

The League has reacted following worrying problems emerging from the Stoke game - where both sides could be relegated on Sunday - that Manchester City fans have bought up thousands of tickets for areas of the Britannia Stadium normally reserved for home fans.

Stoke believe as many as 3,000 City supporters could be in areas of the ground normally reserved for home fans, although even this estimate could be a conservative one.

It is feared that in the 28,000-capacity stadium as many as 10,000 City fans have acquired tickets.

There are also reports that Sunderland supporters have acquired many tickets in the home support areas of the County Ground.

A League spokesman, Chris Hull, said: "We are obviously unable to become involved in the ticket arrangements of individual clubs but we are aware of the possible problems at Stoke. We have to rely on the clubs involved to organise their games in the best way possible and ask fans to behave themselves."

Stoke have decided to bring in 200 extra stewards and 250 police officers for a game that is potentially explosive. Manchester City were given 4,800 tickets for one end of the ground and sold their allocation inside two days. But Stoke have been accepting telephone bookings and put tickets for the other three sides of the ground on open sale.

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