Northwich Victoria are seething at the Football Association and Sunderland after ticket prices for their third-round FA Cup trip to the Stadium of Light were slashed by more than half.
The Northwich chairman, Mike Connett, believes his club have not been shown respect for reaching this stage for only the third time in their 131-year history and insists the decision will severely hit them in the pocket.
It will be the first time Northwich have met a top-flight side in the Cup, but their big day out on 8 January is already provoking unforeseen bitterness.
"Sunderland proposed ticket prices of £6 and £1, which I said was a waste of time," said Connett after Tuesday's victory over Woking. "I said I would accept £20 for adults, with concessions. But the FA have ruled that the prices should be £10 and £5, which I think is a disgraceful way to treat non-League football.
"The way Sunderland and the FA have acted is a total embarrassment. I agree that the magic of this competition is a lot to do with prestige and giant-killing but we also need to make the most of pay days like this. I believe they have cost us £200,000 by going so far below normal prices. Sunderland will still make a lot of their money on car parking, bars, restaurants and hospitality, and we won't see any of that."
Sunderland were keen to cut prices following the marketing success of their Carling Cup third-round tie at home to Arsenal in October. They charged fans only £5 and £1 then, and were rewarded with a 48,000 full house.
"The clubs could not agree on pricing for this game, so the FA Cup committee have set the prices as a compromise," said a Sunderland spokesperson.
An FA spokesman said: "Where clubs are unable to agree, we have to mediate and find a sensible solution. Each game is looked at in its particular context."
Only a few months after coming out of administration, Northwich have travelled further in the Cup than in any season since reaching round four in 1976-77.Reuse content