FA agrees to take Farnborough tie to Highbury

Farnborough Town were last night given the go-ahead to switch their fourth-round FA Cup tie against the holders, Arsenal, from their Aimita stadium to Highbury because of concerns over safety.

The Nationwide Conference side reluctantly concluded they could not guarantee the safety of fans at their 4,100-capacity ground, with the main areas of concern being over issues such as segregation and ticketing.

This followed a meeting at their ground yesterday between club officials and the local council, as well as police, fire and ambulance representatives and a Football Association crowd adviser.

Paul Newman, a spokesman for the FA, said: "The recommendation from that meeting was that the ground is not suitable to stage a major cup tie of this nature. There were concerns about the facilities needed for such a game and the administration of the tie. Both clubs have been informed of the decision."

The net result is that Farnborough have effectively lost their only realistic chance of causing an upset to eclipse their third-round win at Darlington. They will also miss out on £265,000 of television income, as Sky Sports has now switched its live lunchtime broadcast on Saturday 25 January to Gillingham's home tie against Leeds United.

However, given the immense amount of work which would have been needed to convert their own ground into a stadium capable of hosting such a high-profile tie, they are probably better off financially at Highbury.

The game in north London is instead set to go ahead at 3pm on 25 January and Farnborough should still benefit from their share of a £60,000 highlights fee, as well as 50 per cent of gate receipts, which could bring them up to a further £500,000.

The Farnborough manager and chairman, Graham Westley, said yesterday: "Arsenal put it to me very nicely. They said: 'We have 38,000 fans, are your stands up to it? Are ticketing arrangements up to it? Is there the potential for mass disaster on the day and can you give assurances there won't be?' In the end I think it was the only decision to make. As the manager and someone in close contact with the players on a day-to-day basis, there are all those footballing reasons to play the game at home, but they cannot be allowed to cloud a decision of this type.

"We have to be sure people come to our ground and are safe and we couldn't give that guarantee. We had to hold our hands up," Westley added. "It's time for us to get back in charge of ourselves. The lads are totally committed to doing their best on the day and we know we have a massive gap to bridge."

The Farnborough midfielder Michael Warner, who is also the Hampshire club's commercial manager, admitted: "A lot of people want us to play it here but the problem is whether the ground is secure and safe enough to stage such a big game. That is for the club to decide along with the safety authorities.

"Certainly the players would love to play at Highbury, though. That sort of opportunity probably only comes round once in your life and a lot of fans are wondering whether they'd be able to get tickets at home."

Farnborough, who were formed in 1968, will take heart from the last time they faced a top-flight team in the FA Cup 13 years ago. They switched their home tie with West Ham to Upton Park and drew 1-1, losing the replay at the same ground 1-0 only after an 89th-minute Hammers' winner.

* Two other FA Cup ties have been switched to Sunday 26 January, with Fulham against Charlton kicking off at 2pm and Stoke facing Bournemouth or Crewe at 3pm, due to Queen's Park Rangers and Port Vale both playing at home on the previous day.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?