Football: FA defends clamp on Chelsea's hospitality

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The Independent Online
The Football Assocation last night defended its instruction to Chesea to abandon their FA Cup final corporate hospitality package. The FA is offering a similar, more expensive deal.

Chelsea's chairman, Ken Bates, is angry at being told to abandon the club's scheme, which is priced at pounds 496 (plus VAT) and includes a champagne reception with celebrity speakers at Stamford Bridge and travel to and from Wembley, as well as a ticket.

The FA's deal is on offer through a ticket agency at close to pounds 800. "We have an accredited corporate hospitality outlet in Keith Prowse, which enables us to meet a tremendous demand from the business market in a controlled way," the FA spokesman, Steve Double, said.

The FA, which says its packages "keep a lid on professional touting", insists it is a matter of principle that FA Cup final tickets are available through the finalists at face value and are not used for money-raising schemes.

Chelsea believe they should be entitled to offer their own VIP package to their richer supporters. Bates said last night: "The FA do about 4,000 hospitality packages before every Cup Final costing something over pounds 800." He wants to provide about 500 packages as the club does for home games.

Bates said he had spoken to an FA official who had backed Chelsea's plans.