Championship play-off final: Brentford fans petition for increased Wembley capacity
Brentford and Swansea City have called on the UK Government and football authorities to increase the capacity for the Championship play-off final.
Saturday’s game at Wembley is limited to 10,000 fans in line with current Covid-19 restrictions, with each club having an allocation of 4,000 tickets.
Almost 4,500 people have signed an online petition calling for the capacity to be raised.
The FA Cup final had more than 20,000 fans at Wembley as part of test events.
“We have been talking to the EFL and the FA to find ways to increase the numbers allowed to attend and in fairness to them both, they are sympathetic and supportive, but are powerless to help without Government intervention,” said Brentford chief executive Jon Varney.
“We feel it is unjust that only a few days ago, more than 20,000 fans were admitted to the FA Cup final and advanced discussions were taking place for Wembley to host the Champions League final with a similar number of fans attending.
BBC Sport understands the English Football League is in discussions to hopefully increase those respective allocations by an extra 750 tickets.
The FA Cup final had a crowd of more than 21,000 – 25% of Wembley’s overall capacity – for what was an official test event.
The play-off finals have not been included as test events and instead fall under UK Government guidance for England that covers stage three of the Covid-19 roadmap, which began on 17 May.
“The general admission number is approximately 4,000 for each team which seems unfair, considering the size and capacity of Wembley Stadium,” added Swansea City chief executive Julian Winter.
“Supporters are the lifeblood of the game we all love, and it is such a shame that more of them cannot be at Wembley to cheer on their team in what will be a brilliant occasion for all those clubs involved in the play-off final weekend.”
‘Football below the Premier League is generally not valued’
All 12 clubs who were play-off semi-finalists wrote to both the EFL and FA earlier this month to plead for an increased capacity at Wembley, but no changes have so far been agreed.
The EFL would not comment on the government’s criteria for selecting test events.
“Football below the Premier League is generally not valued,” Gemma Teale from Brentford Independent Association of Supporters (BIAS) told BBC Sport.
The group started the petition on Sunday and it was heading towards 5,000 signatures by Monday evening.
“I imagine it didn’t even cross people’s minds how big these games are, and I mean all three finals for the six clubs involved, when they decided not to grant them test event status,” added Teale.
“It’s also more unsettling for some supporters when you consider there were discussions about moving the Champions League final to Wembley.
“That would have been the same day as the Championship play-off final and would also have been granted the same capacity as the FA Cup final.”
Brentford and Swansea have started to distribute their ticket allocations, both of which are smaller than for their respective semi-final second legs.
Both clubs will allocate their tickets on a single basis with seats socially-distanced a metre apart from each other. Up to six friends and family in a support bubble will be permitted to sit close to one another.
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