Bristol City’s Sky Bet Championship fixture with Cardiff City has been moved back to its original date of Saturday November 4th with a 12 noon kick-off.
The fixture had originally been selected for live TV coverage by Sky Sports on Saturday 4th November at 5:30pm, but was subsequently scheduled to take place on Friday 3rd November at 7:45pm after a police representative indicated Friday was preferable to Saturday.
Both clubs fully supported this decision and were working with Avon and Somerset Police and the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) on a number of additional measures as a result of there being an acceptance that this fixture was not completely without the risk of disorder.
The measures proposed by the clubs included a reduction in the number of tickets being made available for away supporters, Cardiff City assisting with aspects of the stewarding operation and a review of how visiting fans would be transported to and from Ashton Gate to reduce the potential for disorder.
EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, said: “Despite achieving an agreement in principle, Avon and Somerset Police subsequently made a number of representations to the Safety Advisory Group and it became clear that they were not prepared to provide the police resources they felt were necessary away from Ashton Gate itself to prevent any possible disorder. In any event, Bristol City had agreed to meet the costs of the police deployed at the stadium.
“The safety of spectators at EFL matches will always be our primary consideration when scheduling fixtures, yet we are disappointed at today’s developments and will be seeking a meeting with Avon and Somerset Police force in relation to this matter at the earliest possible opportunity, as the clubs that fall within that area should not be disadvantaged.”
Bristol City’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Ashton, commented: “A Friday night fixture under the lights at Ashton Gate – and in front of a worldwide audience – always produces a special atmosphere in BS3, leading to enhanced team performances.
“We thank the team at Ashton Gate Stadium for their hard work and planning for what we believe would have been a safe environment for supporters of both clubs, which is always a key consideration. It is hugely disappointing for both us and Ashton Gate Stadium that the match has since been switched back to the Saturday.
“We apologise to any supporters who have been affected by this late change.”
Managing Director of Ashton Gate, Mark Kelly, said: “We are disappointed that Avon & Somerset Police felt they would not be able to safely resource the Cardiff City fixture if it was played on the Friday night and made the decision to veto the date at this late stage.
“Despite all of the measures we had agreed to put in place – including Bristol City agreeing to meet the costs of police deployed at the stadium – the police still felt they would be unable to resource an appropriate level of public order-trained officers to its other commitments.
“Several of the points made at the recent extraordinary SAG meeting were hugely out of context and while we, both Ashton Gate Stadium and Bristol City, respect the input of the police on matchdays, we feel this decision is wholly unnecessary.”
As a result of the change, Sky Sports have subsequently selected Wolverhampton Wanderers v Fulham for live coverage on Friday 3rd November at 7.45pm.