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Darlington fans to boycott West Auckland game as ticket prices are doubled
A NON-LEAGUE football club has confirmed it will double ticket prices for a match despite hundreds of furious fans planning to boycott the game over the controversial move.
West Auckland Town AFC will hike admission charges from £5 to £10 for their Northern League fixture against Darlington FC on Saturday, November 10.
Angry Darlington fans have set up an online protest, with more than 230 already planning to miss the game.
West Auckland bosses have claimed the added costs are needed to finance extra stewarding for their visitors, who regularly attract more than 1,000 supporters to away matches.
Last night, Denis Pinnegar, chairman of Darlington FC, and Northern League chairman Mike Amos, who met the clubs to try to reach a compromise, said they were extremely disappointed but urged Darlington fans not to boycott the match.
Mr Pinnegar said: “We apologise to our fans for the position they have been put in by circumstances completely outside of our control.
“A large number of supporters have expressed their disdain and have threatened to stay away in protest and the board understand them taking this action.
“There is also talk about fans turning up outside the ground to protest which is something the board would vigorously discourage as it will lead to unnecessary confrontation and the risk of disruption.
“We are appealing to fans to continue to be the great ambassadors for the club that they have been all season.”
Darlington FC are playing in the Northern League this season after being demoted five divisions by the FA, and currently sit top of the table.
Mr Pinnegar said any fans wishing to boycott the game could visit Heritage Park to watch Bishop Auckland versus Dunston UTS on the same day, where Darlington supporters will have buckets available for people to donate the extra £5 to charity.
Mr Amos, chairman of the Northern League chairman for 17 years, said West Auckland's decision was one of the biggest disappointments of his tenure.
He said: “I find West Auckland’s decision hard to justify and it’s not in keeping with the 125-year heritage of the Northern League and its reputation for dignity, honourableness and sportsmanship.
“I can only urge Darlington followers to take it on the chin and show that dignity remains vital in sport.”