Barnsley FA Cup: South Yorkshire Police criticised after game v Horsham is moved to a Friday night

The decision to move the date of the fixture has been criticised
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Barnsley’s FA Cup clash with Horsham has been rescheduled to Friday, November 3, at 7:45pm following consultation with South Yorkshire Police, sparking anger from fans and ‘dismay’ from the Hornets’ committee vice-chancellor.

The decision to bring the game at Oakwell forward by one day - and onto a weekday - has upset both Tykes’ and Hornets’ supporters.

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A number of the Sussex team's players may not be able to travel to the Barnsley ground due to work commitments. And their supporters say they are losing the chance to attend what is arguably the club’s biggest match ever.

Having a reduced attendance could also potentially cost both clubs thousands of pounds in revenue.

A statement from Barnsley FC explains: "Our Emirates FA Cup first round clash with Horsham will take place on Friday 3 November, at the request of South Yorkshire Police.

"With three other South Yorkshire clubs in action on the Saturday, our game will be played at 7.45pm on Friday 3 November, to ease the impact on resourcing requirements."

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In an email to Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Horsham FC Committe vice chairman, Mark Barrett, criticised South Yorkshire Police's ‘lack of foresight’ in accommodating a home tie for Barnsley, and urged the force to ‘seriously consider the process for policing FA Cup ties in the future’.

Barnsley FC midfielder Luca Connell (Picture: Tony Johnson)Barnsley FC midfielder Luca Connell (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Barnsley FC midfielder Luca Connell (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Mr Barrett’s letter reads: "I am writing to you to register my complete dismay that South Yorkshire Police have insisted that the FA Cup tie between Barnsley FC and Horsham FC should be played on Friday 3rd November instead of either on a traditional Saturday (3pm kick off) or at least as a second option, on the Sunday afternoon.

"As a result of this, hundreds of Horsham fans have been denied the opportunity to attend what is one of the biggest matches in the club’s 142 year history. A sizable number of our adult supporters will not be able to attend as they simply won’t be able to take time off work, families will not be able to take their children out of school and those that do travel are now facing the cost of an overnight stay.

"Your force will have known the date for the FA Cup First Round Proper for months, what is disappointing is that there has been a lack of foresight to put a plan in place to accommodate a 3pm Saturday kick off if Barnsley were to be drawn at home.

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"The cost to both clubs is considerable, as there will without a doubt be a smaller attendance than had the game gone ahead on a Saturday or a Sunday leading to thousands of pounds of lost revenue for both clubs. I sincerely hope you are not considering charging either club for failing in the duty of policing the event on a more appropriate date, as a result.

"I understand that there are other parties involved in this decision making process, however as the leading authority, I would urge you to seriously consider the process for policing FA Cup ties in the future or even do so for this fixture.

"I await the usual generic, automated response or welcome a more substantial discussion to the subject."

Mr Barrett tweeted a link to the email, including in his caption, "I doubt this will do anything".

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Horsham FC’s statement reads: "Whilst not ideal, we hope that our fans can still travel up to Oakwell in support of the team for what is a massive game and a magnificent achievement by the whole squad."

South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: "Policing in South Yorkshire, is currently experiencing high levels of demand. This is due locally to different factors, including anti-social behaviour linked to darker nights and fireworks, a busy football season across a number of clubs within the county, and an increase in political protests.

"Last week, the FA notified SYP that additional fixtures were to be added over the weekend of Friday 3 November to Sunday 5 November (subject to TV selection) and on reviewing the existing demand in other areas across the force, we contacted Barnsley FC and Doncaster Rovers and asked if they would consider moving their fixtures to either the evening of Friday 3 November, or Sunday 5 November.

"The Football Association (FA) contacted SYP directly to confirm a decision had been made to move Barnsley's fixture to Friday 3 November. SYP can only ask for a change to be considered, decisions are made by other authorities.

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"Policing football does not incur a charge for clubs, unless a specialist policing request is made by the club themselves. Regardless of the day the match will be taking place, the costs of policing will be met by the force, with no amount charged to the club.

"With multiple events taking place within South Yorkshire, our priority remains the safety of those attending, and this can only be ensured where appropriate resourcing is in place."