Man City Fans Protest Ticket Prices, Police Step In To Remove Banner
A Man City fan "who took a banner protesting at the high-price of a ticket" to its match with Arsenal was threatened with arrest, according to Mike Keegan of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. Blue Rick Taylor, 25, "unfurled the homemade sign at the Emirates stadium before kick-off at Sunday's clash in London" for which away fans were charged £62 ($99). The sign read: "£62! Where will it stop?" Moments later Taylor "was surrounded by stewards and police officers who demanded he hand it over or face a night in the cells." Taylor obliged, but is now hitting out at Arsenal's actions, calling them "crazy." Taylor's protest came after Man City failed to sell 912 tickets out of its allotted 3,000 (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 1/14). In London, Paul Kelso reported police stepped in "after attempts by stewards to have the banner removed ended in a stand-off with fans." Police said that they "only intervened to prevent a potential breach of the peace." Arsenal said that it "only acted because of the size of the banner," which was impeding the view of spectators behind it. Police added that their actions "were not prompted by the message, and that the monitoring of banners was a matter for clubs" (TELEGRAPH, 1/14). Also in London, James Andrew wrote the dispute over the ticket prices "has taken a bizarre twist" after a linesman told Man City players Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott "to go over and thank the club's travelling fans for attending." After City won 2-0, TV footage picked up the official, John Brooks, telling the Man City pair "they've paid 62 quid over there, go and see them" as they exchanged handshakes following the final whistle (DAILY MAIL, 1/14).
CONTROL FROM UP TOP: In London, Tony Evans wrote football's "lingering identity crisis was thrown into sharp relief by the City fans' mini-protest." City supporters sang "£62 and we're still here." Being fleeced "was a point of pride." Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore noted that league stadiums maintain a 95% occupancy. Full houses and the noise they provide "make the televisual experience more compelling," which is often "taken for granted." UEFA President Michel Platini's "manifesto for greed assumes that the big clubs will always pack their stadiums." UEFA expects that demand to watch Real Madrid and ManU "will never fade." Top officials are "only thinking about their cash cows." Can't afford £62, "tough" (LONDON TIMES, 1/14).