Millwall fans' Man City complaint upheld by Independent Football Ombudsman
Published 13/07/2016 | 17:56
A group of Millwall supporters who were denied entry to a Manchester City home game last season have had their complaint against the Premier League club upheld by the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO).
On December 12, four Millwall fans who had travelled to the north west to watch their team play at Oldham decided when that match was postponed to head to the Etihad Stadium to try to see City's clash with Swansea.
As they attempted to buy tickets at the ground, it was only after they had been identified as Millwall supporters that were they refused admittance.
One of the party, 65-year-old retired schoolteacher Nick Weavis, later complained about the matter to City, who said their decision to deny entry was taken on police advice.
The IFO, having subsequently become involved via the Football Supporters' Federation, has dismissed this after a Freedom Of Information request to Greater Manchester Police revealed no such advice was given.
The IFO's report on the case says City conceded it had been "wrong to have said (to Weavis) that the police had told the club that the postponement of the Oldham match could pose a safety risk at the Etihad."
It adds City are adamant the decision - which was taken by their safety officer and adhered to the club's policy of intending to sell home tickets to home fans only - was not based simply on the fact the group involved were Millwall supporters, and that fans of Oldham or any other club would have been in the same situation.
The IFO has criticised City's handling of the complaint and recommended they "adopt more flexible ticketing arrangements which cater for casual visitors and fans of other clubs... rather than having a 'one size fits all' policy".
City have offered the group of Millwall fans complimentary tickets to a future fixture at the Etihad Stadium.
The IFO has also recommended the Premier League "consider including in their guidance suitable arrangements to cater for casual visitors", adding: "The League (in response) said that they will work with their clubs to understand how they currently assess and provide for these types of purchases, with a view to making positive developments to the guidance provided."