Colchester pledge to root out City fans with 'home' tickets
Michael Bailey Norwich City fans hoping they have secured a seat for the much anticipated clash at Colchester United could see their tickets cancelled. With a season-long subplot and United chairman Robbie Cowling's decision not to increase the visiting fans' allocation for the game on Saturday week, some City supporters have bought seats in the home sections to ensure a view of what promises to be a feisty League One encounter.
Norwich City fans believing they have secured a seat for the much anticipated clash at Colchester United could yet see their tickets cancelled.
With a season-long sub-plot and United chairman Robbie Cowling's decision not to increase the visiting fans' allocation for the game on Saturday week, some City supporters have bought seats in the home sections to ensure a view of what promises to be a feisty League One encounter.
The game is heading towards a record 10,000 Weston Homes Community Stadium sell-out but Canaries fans could be left disappointed if they have applied for seats anywhere other than the North Stand.
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United stated on their website yesterday they were “continuing to monitor all sales” to ensure only tickets for the North Stand end up in the hands of City supporters.
That monitoring includes the Essex club looking at the sales history and post codes of those buying tickets in home areas of the ground, and calling customers they suspect of being Norwich fans. The worst case scenario would see a fan's ticket being cancelled and having to settle for the offer of a refund - with little chance of another seat in the stadium.
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United officials also confirmed matchday stewards will be looking for Norwich supporters in home areas to prevent issues with supporters' safety during the game.
Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association secretary Kathy Blake said: “Colchester are perfectly within their rights to do it but whether they are right to, I don't know. They will end up with several empty seats. None of this is the fault of Norwich City supporters and Robbie Cowling isn't doing his club any favours.
“They've brought it on themselves and I bet their ticket staff are blessing their chairman for having to look out for signs of rogue applicants.
“It is a classic own goal as far as their chairman goes and if City fans get into the Colchester end and there's trouble, he has only got himself to blame.
“I don't think there will be because our fans usually conduct themselves very well, and I've heard some won't be buying anything from the ground in protest - things like programmes and food.”
Colchester have reported an “upward curve” in sales - both as the game approaches and with Monday's news that more than 1,100 City fans who applied for a ticket in the visitors' section are set to miss out.
The Canaries were given an initial batch of 1,900 tickets for the game at Cuckoo Farm - despite League One leaders Leeds United being handed an allocation of 3,000 seats earlier this season.
City's repeated requests for more tickets fell on deaf ears, with Cowling stating he would rather risk the extra �30,000 in revenue than open more tickets to Canaries fans.
The United chairman's ill feeling stems from manager Paul Lambert's defection to Carrow Road in the first two weeks of the season - and within days of masterminding City's record 7-1 loss in their League One opening day drubbing.
Since then the two clubs have failed to agree compensation for the moves of Lambert, assistant Ian Culverhouse and football operations manager Gary Karsa to City, with Cowling requesting a Football League tribunal set for early this year and calling for Norwich to be deducted league points for their conduct.
In announcing no more tickets would be heading to Norwich last month, Cowling added: “I am sorry if this decision goes down badly with the Norwich fans, who I personally have no gripe with. However, the Norwich board have acted appallingly towards our club recently and I'm not sure I have ever wanted to win a game of football so badly.
“Therefore, on this occasion, I will do everything in my power to stack whatever odds I can in our favour and if that does mean an empty seat rather than an away supporter then so be it.”
United reported on Tuesday sales from Monday meant there were less than 300 tickets remaining and the game is expected to be a sell out by the end of this week.
Colchester's current record crowd for a league game is the 9,559 that saw last season's visit of Leeds United in April, while the stadium record is the 9,692 who turned up to see England Under-19's friendly against Germany, in November 2008.