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Town fans face anxious wait over big date at Priestfield
TOWN fans could be waiting until as late as Friday to find out whether they will be allowed to watch Saturday’s match against Gillingham FC.
Swindon’s penultimate away game, at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium, is at risk of not being fulfilled because of a dispute between Kent Police and the football club.
Gillingham are currently involved in a dispute over the cost and number of police officers needed at Priestfield Stadium for the match.
Medway Council, the licensing authority, slapped a prohibition notice on the April 21 fixture, preventing supporters from attending because they have ‘serious concerns’ about public safety.
A similar dispute, which threatened to see Gillingham’s FA Cup match against Stoke called off in January, was resolved the day before the game.
Mark Issacs, operations manager at Swindon Town, said he believed any decision this time could come as late as Friday.
He said: “Gillingham have asked that we provide staff to support their operation and we have done as much as we can as a club.
“I have not heard anything in the last 48 hours and as far as a cut-off goes I suppose it could be Friday.”
The news will upset the 1,400 Town fans who have bought tickets for the game, which could be the title clincher, should Town beat Aldershot tonight.
Nigel Bennett, spokesman for the Swindon Town Supporters Club, said: “It’s disappointing that Gillingham FC have not carried out their responsibility in order to confirm that this game will go ahead a scheduled by the League this Saturday.
“Any further dealys would not only disappoint Gillingham fans but also those Swindon fans also planning to attend the game.”
Yesterday, a spokesman for Gillingham said talks were ongoing and had no further comment to make.
In their only statement, the Kent club said: “While this situation remains on-going there is a remote risk that the fixture may not proceed as scheduled.
“In this event, any fan purchasing a ticket will receive a full refund for the value of the ticket but the club cannot be held responsible for any advance travel costs that may be incurred.”
A spokesman for the Football Leauge said they felt it would be inappropriate to comment but would continue to monitor the situation.