FA have seen sense and allocated Grecians extra tickets for Cup match in January


It was always going to be impossible to please everyone when Exeter City were paired with Premier League strugglers West Brom in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Ordinarily St James’ Park would be able to meet the high demand for tickets for the eagerly-anticipated encounter with Alan Pardew’s side.

But the near 8,500 capacity at Exeter’s stadium has been reduced to nearer 6,000 as the ground undergoes significant redevelopment.

The result is that demand is far outweighing supply as supporters keep their fingers crossed to get their hands on the hottest tickets in town.

In usual circumstances the away supporters get tickets amounting to 15 per cent of the capacity of the ground.

West Brom bosses were hoping to receive around 900 tickets under the FA rules dictating ticket supply for visiting sides.

But these are not usual circumstances and Exeter asked for special dispensation from football big wigs to reduce the away allocation and allow more of their own supporters to watch the game.

Thankfully, the FA saw sense and West Brom have been allocated just 300 tickets for a game that means far more to Exeter than it does to the Baggies.

It will still be extremely tight with some fans missing out on the January 6 encounter. But at least the loyal City fans will get to see Exeter take on another top-flight side following visits of Manchester United in January 2005 and Liverpool in January 2016.

Meanwhile, West Brom bosses have expressed their concern that their small supply will make it extremely difficult to satisfy fans intending on travelling to Exeter.

But the line had to be drawn somewhere and, without wishing to sound disrespectful to West Brom, this game is more about Exeter staging and enjoying one of their biggest games in recent history rather than pandering to the Premier League side just because they have an large army of travelling supporters.

After all, it would be a huge surprise if West Brom field a full-strength side for the trip to Exeter with Premier League survival their overriding priority as opposed to a run in the planet’s favourite domestic cup competition.

The Baggies will undoubtedly include some of their first-team regulars in the side with a number of their big guns likely to warm the bench if the match does not go according to plan.

Manager Paul Tisdale says he will not ask West Brom for permission to play Kyle Edwards and Kane Wilson in the FA Cup clash. The Baggies pair are currently on loan at St James’ Park until next month, but Tisdale is keen to extend their deals.

All the noises being made by City bosses and players revolve around ignoring the FA Cup clash due to the number of League games between now and January 6.

Tisdale was quick to sound a note of caution about getting too excited about the match given what happened when the Grecians drew Liverpool in the FA Cup early last year.

After landing the prized draw, the Grecians lost four games on the trot over the festive period and Tisdale wants to avoid a repeat as his side chase promotion.

On paper the Grecians have got a nice run of games coming up as they look to cement their place in the automatic promotion places.

Barnet, who face a battle against relegation, are the visitors to St James’ Park on Saturday before Exeter travel to Newport County on New Year’s Day.

The FA Cup clash against West Brom comes next before Exeter host Coventry City on January 13.

As the season reaches the half-way point, Exeter are on course to avoid the play-offs and seal an automatic promotion place.

It is a far cry from this time last season when the Grecians were in the bottom half of the table following an injury-cursed start which left them bottom in November.

Yet we all know what happened at the turn of the year as Exeter stormed up the table and into the play-offs, only to fall short at the final hurdle – losing 2-1 to Blackpool at Wembley.

Statistics show that Exeter are one of the best performing sides in all four divisions on home soil during 2017.

Ahead of their Boxing Day match, Tisdale’s men had won 16 matches at St James’ Park and were level with Portsmouth and Premier League high-flyers Arsenal for the most matches won at home this year.

Meanwhile, City bosses have revealed no date has been set for a tribunal to determine the transfer fee for young hotshot Ethan Ampadu.

The 17-year-old defender has made a number of first-team appearances for Premier League giants Chelsea and has received glowing praise from manager Antonio Conte since he arrived at Stamford Bridge over the summer.

It is unclear what Exeter are likely to receive for the defender, but the fact that Ampadu was not under scholarship terms at St James’ Park means the amount will probably not be as much as the Grecians would like.

A number of factors will be analysed before a figure is agreed between the two clubs.

But Exeter will be hoping to trouser a significant seven-figure fee for their part in his development, although Chelsea appear to want to pay lower given that Ampadu was not locked into a contract.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.