Fans fume as Arsenal-Chelsea game moved



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Arsenal vs Chelsea postponed Image: Populous

Fans have been left furious after the Premier League club Arsenal F.C.’s crunch Premier League clash with its peer team Chelsea F.C. was moved at late notice.

‘Mirror’ stated that police chiefs insisted that the London derby (a game of football between two teams from the same City or area) which was due to be shown live on Sky at 5.30 pm on April 29th be moved to May 2nd at 8 pm.

The Arsenal Football Club is an English professional football club based in Islington, London (UK). Arsenal plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football.

The Emirates Stadium is a football stadium in Holloway, London, England (UK). It has been the home stadium of the Arsenal Football Club since its completion in 2006. It has a current seated capacity of 60,704, making it the fifth-largest football stadium in England by capacity.

The Chelsea Football Club is an English professional football club based in Fulham, West London (UK). Founded in 1905, they play their home games at the Stamford Bridge. The club competes in the Premier League, the top division of English football. They won their first major honor, the League championship, in 1955.

The Stamford Bridge is a football stadium in Fulham, adjacent to the borough of Chelsea in West London, UK. It is the home of Premier League club Chelsea. With a capacity of 40,343, it is the ninth-largest venue of the 2022-2023 Premier League seasons and the 11th largest football stadium in England.

‘Mirror’ further stated that it has caused a huge row as hundreds of fans had organized trips, booked hotels and travel for one of Arsenal’s few remaining games in their title challenge.

The switch was made with less than three weeks’ notice with a fans’ group making the point it had already been moved once for the benefit of TV. The rescheduled game will also be shown live on Sky.

Arsenal are not happy with the decision to reschedule the fixture, stating, “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 kickoff.”

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust has also criticized the change, calling it the “result of inconsistent and poor police decision-making”. They said, “We have made contact with the club about concerns regarding when the Arsenal vs. Chelsea game is played. Fixtures should not be changed once they are confirmed publicly, including by the police, except for emergency situations. This is a really poorly outcome as a result of inconsistent and poor police decision-making. They approved the game but are now playing politics based on Londonwide issues they have with ‘late’ weekend kickoff times. We shall raise with the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) and the relevant authorities.”

The Football Supporters’ Association echoed their comments, accusing authorities of showing “little regard for matchgoing supporters” by rescheduling the fixture with just over two weeks’ notice – “Arsenal vs. Chelsea is moved again (after initially being selected for a Saturday evening kickoff) to a Tuesday evening with just over two weeks’ notice. More disruption for fans and not the first time this season the authorities have shown such little regard for matchgoing supporters.”

The Premier League is absolutely furious with the police and has expressed “regret” for fans that are left inconvenienced.

The Premier League revealed that the original date was approved at a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meeting in February.

But the Metropolitan Police has now revised its position regarding the kickoff time and requested a further SAG meeting which determined the match had to be rescheduled.

The Premier League said, “We regret the need to move this fixture at late notice and the impact this will have on supporters. The game will remain live on Sky Sports.”

It is believed it could be because the police resources are stretched as they prepare for the King’s Coronation the following weekend.

The Arsenal and Chelsea Supporters’ Trust joined forces to slam the decision.

They said in a statement, “It is totally unacceptable that with 18 days until the fixture, it has been announced that Arsenal vs. Chelsea will be postponed and rearranged. 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 that arbitrary and unaccountable decisions have been made by the police that adversely impact our clubs and supporters. This decision will create a major inconvenience to the supporters who have already made travel and accommodation arrangements and will negatively impact those supporters attending the fixture.”

The statement further read, “The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust and the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust call on the Premier League to provide a fuller explanation behind these issues. We will in turn take this matter to the Mayor of London who oversees the Metropolitan Police. Supporters are being treated with complete contempt.”

A Met Police statement read, “The Met engaged with the Premier League, the Arsenal Football Club and the Islington Council, through a Safety Advisory Group since February, to negotiate an earlier week-end kickoff for the Arsenal vs. Chelsea football match, when notified of the proposed television scheduling of 17:30 hrs, on April 29th.

“This was as a preventive and proactive measure to help mitigate Antisocial Behavior and crime associated with later weekend kickoffs. The Met suggested an earlier kickoff time on April 29th to minimize crime and disorder and the impact on fans, which was declined by football partners who instead chose to play the fixture on an alternative date. A new date of May 2nd at 20:00 hrs has now been agreed.”

London (UK)-based the Premier League is the highest level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League. Seasons typically run from August to May with each team playing 38 matches.

The Safety Advisory Groups (SAGs) provide a forum for discussing and advising on public safety at an event. They aim to help organizers with the planning, and management of an event and to encourage cooperation and coordination between all the relevant agencies. They are non-statutory bodies and so do not have legal powers or responsibilities, and are not empowered to approve or prohibit events from taking place. Event organizers and others involved in the running of an event retain the principal legal duties for ensuring public safety.

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