FA get tough with minnows over lack of Cup romance

The Football Association have taken a stand for David against Goliath by putting aside their concerns over England's next European Championship qualifying match being staged at a tiny stadium in Liechtenstein. In the same vein, they are also prepared to bring in new regulations preventing small clubs making a fast buck by surrendering home advantage in the FA Cup.

Senior officials regret that Farnborough Town's fourth-round tie against Arsenal yesterday had to be switched to Highbury. While emphasising that safety considerations are paramount, they want home clubs and their local emergency services to make every effort to stage games at the original venue.

There is particular concern that, in Farnborough's case, the Conference club had made up their mind about switching even before a meeting with the relevant authorities took place to discuss it. Farnborough's chairman, Graham Westley, has admitted doing so after taking a telephone call the night before the meeting from Arsenal's managing director, Keith Edelman. "Arsenal put it very nicely," Westley said. "They said, 'We have 38,000 fans, are your stands up to it? Is there the potential for mass disaster on the day and can you give us assurances that there won't be?' There was only one decision to make."

That decision was duly confirmed the next day, ensuring that the non-League club would effectively double the £300,000 to be made from playing the match at their Cherrywood Road ground. They were entitled to have requested a neutral ground, but would have made less money.

"You want the game on at the smaller club," said David Davies, who with Nic Coward is acting chief executive of the FA until Adam Crozier's successor is appointed. "That's what this competition is all about. We want to make that happen." Coward, a Shrewsbury Town supporter who took Davies to Gay Meadow for the famous third-round victory over Everton, added: "It's our priority to make sure that continues. This decision at Farnborough is the exception, not the rule. We want to understand how that came about, so we can make sure the magic of the Cup is kept going."

Discussions are being held with Ken Bates, the chairman of the FA Cup Committee, to that end, and new regulations are being threatened if necessary; what they might be has not been specified.

The Euro 2004 tie in Liechtenstein on 29 March will take place at a ground 25 per cent smaller than Farnborough's, with a capacity of barely 3,600. "We had concerns and discussed them with Uefa," Davies said. "But Spain and Portugal have played there in the recent past without incident. We are part of European football, members of Uefa, and if the advice we're getting is that there's no reason why the game should not go ahead, we take the advice and we're happy to play in what will be the biggest match ever played in Liechtenstein." England have been allocated 900 tickets, to be distributed through their members' club, and the appeal – as ever – is for those without tickets not to travel.

Gate receipts will hardly be sufficient to swell the FA's coffers as they seek a reduction of one-fifth in operating expenses, and they are determined not to give up playing lucrative friendlies, despite Sven Goran Eriksson's agreement to hold occasional get-togethers – like last November's – instead of playing matches. Leading Premiership clubs wanted a reduction in the number of internationals and are still pressing for compensation when their players are called up.

Discussions are likely to continue for some time on that issue and will not be resolved before the friendly against Australia at Upton Park on 12 February, which is already sold out. England play in South Africa on 22 May and will be at home, probably to Yugoslavia, on 4 June, a week before the European Championship game against Slovakia.

Meanwhile, Davies and Coward find themselves with much to do before a new chief executive is appointed. Neither will be applying for the position, which has only been advertised today. In the interim, new initiatives include a Financial Advisory Committee under Sir Roland Smith, which will at last include a "fit and proper person test" designed to stop con-men and fraudsters gaining control of clubs for their own ends. Few people will share Coward's faith that football is "an industry that self-regulates well" and Davies has already admitted that introducing the fit and proper person test could be a legal minefield.

Other declared aims include recruiting Howard Wilkinson's successor as the FA's technical director, speeding up disciplinary procedures and attracting more coaches from ethnic minorities.

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Businessman at desk circa 1950s
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea