Football: Price fear for Stevenage tie

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The Independent Online
THE venue has been decided, even if only after much hot air, but the controversy surrounding the FA Cup fourth-round tie between Stevenage and Newcastle looks unlikely to go away now that the touchy subject of admission prices has been raised.

The Vauxhall Conference side's day of glory was given the go-ahead on Friday when the Football Association backed their right to host the tie by turning down an appeal from the Premiership club over the safety of the non-league side's ground. But Stevenage now intend to raise ticket costs for the game, to be played on Sunday 25 January, with reports suggesting they could go up by as much as 400 per cent.

Stevenage are concerned to prevent a black market for the 8,000 tickets available for the match and to prevent Newcastle fans without tickets travelling to the game.

A final decision on ticket price levels will be made this week, and will have to be agreed by Newcastle and the FA. But the club's manager, Paul Fairclough, said: "There's no doubt that there will be an increase. There has to be, unfortunately.

"We are going to be seeing pounds 50m worth of class players on this pitch and I think the prices will reflect that. I've had supporters say to me that they would pay anything to see the game played here. They obviously want the club to be secure."

Members of the FA's Challenge Cup committee brought the saga over the venue for the match to a close by ruling that safety experts had been right to give the ground and the temporary seating planned to increase the capacity the all-clear.

Newcastle had insisted that the Broadhall Way ground was not large enough to host the televised tie and their manager Kenny Dalglish was said to have been worried about the safety of fans given his experiences of the horrors of Hillsborough and Heysel.