Having been drawn against Brighton in the Third Round of the FA Cup, Crystal Palace are technically due an allocation of more than 4,000 tickets for January’s trip to The Amex Stadium (15%) not that the Seagulls or Sussex police are likely to go along with that figure.
A little over a week ago, despite a reduced allocation, there were all manner of issues with the stewarding and policing of a meeting between the two sides in Falmer, leading many to assume that a different plan will be drawn up for when we play at the same venue in the first few days of 2018.
In the hours immediately after Palace’s trip to the south coast last Tuesday, stories emerged of a 75 minute police escort, missed trains and more than 150 ticket-holding, peaceful supporters being denied entry to the stadium before being kettled for an hour and returned to Falmer station with next to no explanation as to why.
With all of this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the senior staff inside Sussex police force felt their stomach’s drop when the Third Round Draw was made, given the allocation they’ll be asked to accommodate.
I can’t help but feel that the reduced number of tickets given to the club for our last meeting played a part in the general disorder that occurred, even if I can understand the police’s reasons for limiting the amount of Palace fans who would be offered tickets. It’s worth saying that, despite the actions of a mindless few, the vast majority of our supporters just want the opportunity to watch their team in what is a huge match for both clubs.
In truth, the kick-off time of last week’s meeting (7:45pm) won’t have helped anyone in their efforts to stop things from getting out of hand. Allowing people to drink all day is never the best idea when trying to quell any issues from a police perspective, meaning that our next visit will probably be scheduled close to noon on the Saturday or Sunday instead.
Based on the feedback given in the aftermath of last Tuesday, our allocation is likely to be closer to 400 than 4,000 for the FA Cup tie but we live in hope.