Norman Smurthwaite has confirmed that the away support for Stoke City U21’s side will not be housed in the Railway stand.
Since Vale were drawn against Stoke City’s U21 side in the Checkatrade Trophy, there has been plenty of controversy.
Despite indifference from home fans, the away support has sold out the Hamil End stand and there was an indication from the club that the Railway Stand would then be opened to away fans.
I am deeply sorry for the anguish that the announcement made on Saturday has created and understand the emotional and historical value of where fans choose to sit…
The news caused much debate and prompted the Port Vale Supporters club to ask for fans’ views on the issue.
Smurthwaite has now responded to the speculation.
A statement confirmed:
I refer to the statement made by the Football Club on Saturday evening with regard to the Checkatrade game between Port Vale and Stoke City FC.
I think it is fair to say that nobody expected Stoke City’s allocation to be sold out, and so quickly, which had left us with an operational issue with regard to stopping additional Stoke fans purchasing tickets within our home area. If the Lorne Street stand had been sold out at the same time then decisions could have been taken, with a little more time in hand, what we do next in relation to this fixture.
I can now confirm that no further tickets will be made available to Stoke City FC and I apologise to any Stoke City fans that had expectations to come to the game following our announcement on Saturday evening and ask that they do not try to circumvent our ticket processes to be seated within our home areas.
This fixture, once announced, flagged up some operational challenges for ourselves and Staffordshire Police with whom we have forged a very good and robust working relationship and clearly we wish to work with them in relation to all safety aspects of this game.
We will now open the Railway Paddock in addition to the Lorne Street Stand and tickets can only be purchased by existing Port Vale season ticket holders and holders of the 10-match ticket package for the current season. Online ticket sales are now suspended and all tickets will have to be purchased through the ticket office, there will not be any cash turnstiles available on the evening of the game. Each holder is entitled to purchase 2 tickets and, if the holder qualifies for concessions, the first ticket only will have a concession applied to it. There will be no exceptions to this rule and the stated prices and times scales will remain as originally quoted.
I have felt the pain and anger expressed by so many of our fans directly to me via social media. I am deeply sorry for the anguish that the announcement made on Saturday has created and understand the emotional and historical value of where fans choose to sit. I would ask that you put yourselves in my position as I am ultimately responsible for peoples safety and am accountable to the appropriate authorities if I fail in my duties to govern that. Having taken on board all the emotions and language; please note that if any Port Vale fan tries to circumvent our processes in supplying tickets to Stoke City fans, or is responsible in any way for any form of antisocial behaviour or inciting violence, they will receive a significant club ban, irrespective of any action being taken by the appropriate authorities.
As a member of the EFL we are duty bound to perform in the Checkatrade competition to the best of our abilities. Personally nothing would give me greater pleasure than to represent our Club at Wembley for the final of this competition.
Having noted the reaction to the initial announcement on Saturday I now ask that you please support the Club in ensuring that we have equal or greater numbers in situ than our opposition at the game as I feel, if not, we will have lost part of the momentum before the whistle is even blown.
The unbudgeted revenue generated by this game, the windfall of the television monies generated by the Sunderland game together with the second payment due in January from the Jordan Hugill proceeds, will go towards funds available for the Manager in the January transfer window.
On the 4th December Port Vale will play Stoke City in a competitive knock out cup competition and I hope that you will now put any differences aside and come and give your full support to your Manager and players in trying to get us through to the next round.