Arsenal have issued a statement addressing the issues around last night’s delayed kick-off in the Europa League.
There were far more Cologne fans than dedicated away tickets, many of them had tickets in the Arsenal end, and there were minor scuffles and disturbances before and during the game.
This morning the club have issued a statement which says:
Following last night’s UEFA Europa League match with Cologne we would like to stress that fan safety was always our paramount concern and informed all decisions made.
We worked in full consultation with police and UEFA officials on the night and in advance of the game and had taken extensive steps in advance to prevent tickets being sold to visiting supporters.
This included a number of measures including ensuring no tickets were sold via general sale and that no red memberships purchased after the draw were able to be used to get tickets in the home end for this match. We also worked with our colleagues at Cologne to stop supporters travelling without match tickets.
The 3,000 tickets issued to Cologne fans was in line with competition rules but it is clear many more visiting fans arrived, causing significant congestion and disturbance outside the stadium before kick-off. Many tickets were sold through touts and this is very disappointing.
We have launched a full review into the circumstances surrounding the game and will ensure any lessons that can be learned are used in the future.
There are clearly many questions to be answered, from all sides. Arsenal have to manage their ticketing and stadium management better. Cologne as a club need to take their share of responsibility, but credit also has to be given as to how it was dealt with when the problem manifested itself.
Had Arsenal fans behaved the way their fans did somewhere on the continent, the response would likely have been much more heavy handed, and thankfully things passed over peacefully for the most part.