Adam Powley asks who is to blame for Tottenaham fans obtaining tickets for the Leicester end at Wembley and what are the FA are going to do about it?
Since the trouble at the Worthington Cup final, attention has focused on how Tottenham fans got seats for the Leicester end. The root of the problem seems simple: someone, or a group of people, almost certainly with connections to Leicester City, sold tickets either directly or indirectly to Spurs fans, thus at a stroke negating the effectiveness of any segregation policy. The big question is “who dunnit?”
Accusing fingers have been pointed at unnamed Leicester officials and players. However, until firm evidence emerges, there is growing pressure on the football authorities to provide some answers.
The FA is still examining the issue, following a Football League investigation. The League’s spokesman said: “We have received information from Leicester City in relation to our enquiry and we have worked closely with Wembley and the Metropolitan Police. We have reached a point where we believe there is further information to be sought, so we have handed it across to the FA. They have an investigations unit and so are better resourced in order to be able to carry out a fuller investigation.”
The FA will not say when their own enquiry will be completed. Their spokesman did confirm that Graham Bean, the FA’s compliance officer responsible for investigating any disciplinary matter, will be involved, but added “ultimately it will be a commission that looks at the issues, made up of members of the FA council”.
Depending on your point of view, this is either the game’s governing bodies acting with due caution to a serious issue that requires measured analysis, or it is yet another example of the indecisiveness and buck-passing that exists at executive level. What those who bore the brunt of the fisticuffs at Wembley will want to know, however, is what the FA will do if the enquiry does conclude that individuals sold tickets to line their own pockets.
Until their findings are announced, the FA have declined to make any further comment, either as to who was to blame for the tickets getting on to the black market, or as to what sanctions are available. They have added that as “the ultimate body in the game, the FA has wide powers in relation to any issue, but that’s as far as we go in terms of discussing any potential punishments before actual findings are made.”
Selling tickets above face value is a criminal offence. Many fans, having seen the activity of the Flash Harrys who continue to do a roaring trade, seemingly under the noses of the police, will laugh at such an apparently feeble statute. However, the FA are surely obliged to come down hard on anyone within football caught in the act. When a mere gesture from a player can get him into trouble, ripping off supporters and compromising safety should rank at the top of any list of misdemeanours.
From WSC 149 July 1999. What was happening this month