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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?