Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Thursday October 2 2008
With the recent news that Greater Manchester Police have forced two Stoke matches to be rearranged, it has reignited the debate about the benefits of Stoke's controversial Away Card scheme.
Some minor trouble at Bolton on the opening day of the season seems to have tarred the vast majority of loyal, law-abiding Stoke fans with the same brush and now the GMP appear to be doing their best to disrupt the travel plans of Stoke supporters with changes to another two of the upcoming matches in their patch - Wigan and Manchester City.
The Away Card has been generally disliked since it's introduction several years ago in the wake of several serious away incidents after it became apparent that all Stoke fans would be banned from travelling to away games unless the club took action. Critics of the scheme say that since all tickets must be bought at the Brit before the game using the card, it prevents fans from being able to make last minute decisions to travel and buy a ticket at the away ground. Cards cost £10 each for adults with the money going towards the police check, but juniors are free and they are valid indefinitely.
There's no doubt that since it's introduction it has helped to greatly reduce the risk of any trouble and the club were able to relax the rules with the introduction of a guest list for some matches, so that card holders can take friends who don't have a card.
But all this counts for nothing if the police insist on making life even more difficult for the travelling Potters and the club, to their credit, seem intent on making the point that they could decide to ditch the scheme if police forces choose to still restrict fans despite a good reputation in recent years.
Chief Executive, Tony Scholes said: 'We are very disappointed with the stance being taken by Greater Manchester Police and we feel that we are being unfairly penalised based on a historic reputation.
'Things like this should be based on our current behaviour, because we now have a very good reputation.'
Date:Thursday October 2 2008
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