Today (11/04) it was announced that Arsenal’s upcoming game against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium has been moved with just over two weeks notice in a move described as “insulting” by fan groups.
The match was picked by broadcasters to be played on Saturday 29th April in the 5.30pm slot but that fixture will now take place on Tuesday 2nd May at 8pm after a late intervention from London’s Metropolitan Police.
“This change has been made as a result of the Metropolitan Police revising its position on policing the match,” Arsenal said. “After working to try to find a solution with the Met Police, we are very disappointed with the impact and disruption this fixture change will cause to our supporters, particularly after this match had been initially approved for a Saturday evening kick-off.”
The club said in a statement that the Metropolitan Police has apparently revised its position regarding the kick-off time and requested a further Safety Advisory Group meeting which determined the match had to be re-scheduled.
At the time of publication the force had offered no explanation on its website or social media as to why they would be unable to police the fixture on the originally scheduled Saturday.
In a joint statement, Arsenal Supporters Trust and Chelsea Supporters Trust said: “We are deeply disappointed that a confirmed fixture has been moved after both clubs, the broadcaster, the Safety Advisory Group, and the police had confirmed it.
“This is an insult to those supporters who are attending.”
This is not the first time supporters have been impacted by late interventions from the Metropolitan Police. Earlier this season, Manchester United had their away allocation at Stamford Bridge cut substantially as the Metropolitan Police were unhappy with the later kick-off time. This came despite tickets already going on sale for that game and months of wrangling between clubs, authorities and broadcasters.
Both supporters trusts now say they will take this matter up with the Premier League and Mayor of London – and will be supported nationally by the FSA.
“This decision will create a major inconvenience to supporters who will have already made travel and accommodation arrangements,” they said.