Sutton v Arsenal: will the tie be reversed to be played at the Ems?

By Tony Attwood

It happened on 25 January 2003 and is still recorded in most history books as Farnborough 1-5 Arsenal.  But in fact the game took place at Highbury, switched there to help Farnborough get additional revenue.

Arsenal donated all the income from programme sales for the day to Farnborough, and as the teams came out the Arsenal support chanted “You’re supposed to be at home.”  A singularly droll moment one could say.

In fact Farnborough’s dream of knocking the club that had just won the double out of the FA Cup was wrecked in nine first-half minutes at Highbury as goals from Sol Campbell and Francis Jeffers effectively ended the match.   Christian Lee got a red card on 28 minutes just to rub it all in.

Further goals from Jeffers, substitute Dennis Bergkamp (on for Pires) and, finally, Lauren gave Arsenal the win, although Farnborough did get a consolation goal near the end from Rocky Baptiste.   The goal from Baptiste was his seventh of the FA Cup campaign, making him the leading scorer in the competition for the season.

The Arsenal team for the day was


Lauren, Campbell, Cygan, van Bronckhorst,

Vieira, Toure (Wiltord 66)

Pires (Bergkampg), Toure (Wiltord 66), Jeffers, Kanu (Edu 76).

Subs not used: Seaman, Luzhny.

Attendance: 35,108

Sadly Farnborough’s decision to cash in on the match by switching grounds didn’t pay off in the long term as in the 2009–10 season, with the team looking to win the league title, the club were served with winding up order in court: all the money from the Arsenal game, it seems, had been blown away.

Worse this was just three seasons after the new club formed. However the club pulled itself together and on 17 April 2010 they became champions of the Southern League Premier Division, and were promoted to Conference South.  They stayed there until 2015 when the were relegated to the Isthmian League an then subsequently down into the Southern League Division One Central.

Sutton play in the National League – one league below League Two.  Their ground is at Gander Green Lane and has a capacity of 5,013, with 765 seated.  Here’s the current league table.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
Lincoln City 28 18 4 6 57 29 28 58
Forest Green Rovers 30 16 9 5 61 36 25 57
Dagenham & Redbridge 29 17 4 8 49 31 18 55
Tranmere Rovers 28 16 5 7 38 24 14 53
Dover Athletic 30 16 4 10 61 46 15 52
Barrow 29 13 10 6 47 30 17 49
Aldershot Town 30 13 8 9 37 29 8 47
Macclesfield Town 28 14 4 10 41 29 12 46
Gateshead 30 11 10 9 47 33 14 43
Chester 30 11 10 9 46 38 8 43
Boreham Wood 30 11 9 10 31 27 4 42
Wrexham 31 11 9 11 30 38 -8 42
Eastleigh 29 10 11 8 42 36 6 41
Bromley 29 12 5 12 38 42 -4 41
Solihull Moors 29 10 7 12 40 45 -5 37
Sutton United 28 10 6 12 31 36 -5 36
Torquay United 30 9 6 15 35 43 -8 33
Braintree Town 29 8 7 14 32 49 -17 31
Woking 29 8 6 15 41 53 -12 30
Southport 30 8 6 16 37 63 -26 30
Maidstone United 30 8 5 17 33 56 -23 29
Guiseley 29 7 7 15 34 46 -12 28
North Ferriby United 31 8 3 20 18 47 -29 27
York City 30 5 11 14 27 47 -20 26


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24 Replies to “Sutton v Arsenal: will the tie be reversed to be played at the Ems?”

  1. Wasn’t there such an outcry following the Farnborough switch that the F.A ruled against it happening again.

  2. How strange…. 8 PL teams in the hat out of 16 teams and none of them play another PL team.

    Burnley v Lincoln City
    Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur
    Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United
    Sutton United v Arsenal
    Middlesbrough v Oxford United
    Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea
    Huddersfield Town v Manchester City
    Millwall v Derby County or Leicester City

  3. It’s a legitimate possibility Walter. It also maximizes the chance of a lower team knocking out a Premier team.

    But what concerns me, is that the Sutton field is artificial. Or rather, that one person who can twit, said in their twit, that Arsenal could expect a bunch of knee injuries from the artificial pitch.

  4. Eight of the teams which are listed in the National League division are familiar club side names who had at one time or the other played in one of the former Professional League divisions two or four before they were relegated out of the professional League divisions.
    The clubs are:
    Lincoln City
    Torquay United
    Tranmere Rovers
    Wrexham and
    York City.

    Mr Broeckx, you’ve observed correctly as not even 2 teams out of the 8 PL teams who were in the hat for the 5th round drawn have been drawn to play against each other by Lady Luck. What is Lady Luck after with this her strange 5th round FA draw? A knockout of one or two of the PL teams out of the competition by the lower team club sides? I should think so.

  5. Less I forget, will Arsenal choose to be magnanimous once again? Will it not be ridiculous if a super club side of Arsenal status traveled to Sutton United to play against them on their ground that can only hold just over 5000 spectators in a 5th round FA Cup tie match? Wouldn’t it be better for Sutton United to approach Arsenal once more do please do them another favour again to agree to allow the Cup tie to be moved this time around to the Emirates Stadium to play the match there? Which if accepted by Arsenal could fetch Sutton a gate taking proceeds of £1m to help them in their finances, instead of them to be reaching for an optical illusion dream to do a mother of all knockout from the FA Cup of the century to Arsenal which can never happen. The pleading is for Sutton to do and the acceptance is for Arsenal to accept.

  6. I think Sutton can switch the game to a bigger ground – but not reverse it to play at Arsenal. I guess Chelsea is their nearest “big” ground…?

    Sutton seem to be OK financially as the manager actually pays THEM for the privelege. He also stumped up near half a mil out of his own pocket for the pitch. Apparently was £450K. The new pitch at my kids’ school will apparently be 600K. Something not quite straight there?!

  7. Assuming that this will be televised live, playing at Gander Green Lane will be a very viable (and romantic) option. This one is just made for TV and I’d be surprised if Sutton switched.
    They are not hard up and the TV money will be huge anyway.

  8. bjtgooner
    Always, they leave nothing to chance when it concerns money.

    5000 people, that will fit just about Arsenal away supporters.

    Still, to be wary of injuries, upsets etc.

  9. Pool is going to make a resurgence and demolish Chel$ tonight. Stands to reason.

    Arsenal needs to continue winning and not slip up v watford who we cannot forget are 14th place and are not a lowly team.

  10. As an Arsenal fan from Sutton – I do not expect the tie to be switched. Sutton are happy to remain in the conference (any further progression will mean replacing the pitch and losing the 7 day revenue that comes from having a pitch like this). The TV money from the Leeds tie is being invested in the changing rooms and the youth setup.

    Pitch is fine and I’m sure as a club we must have something similar at the training centre we use.

    Sutton also have 3 ex Arsenal academy lads in their squad (Eastmonnd, Deacon and the recently signed Monakana).

    Looking forward to it. All i need now is a ticket!

  11. Robert you could well be right, and of course my knowledge of Sutton is limited. I guess the reasons I thought it might change is because being at the Ems would give Sutton fans more tickets to see the match, and of course more income. And I thought I heard the boss at the club say that he wanted Arsenal or Man U away to generate a lot of money for the club.

    My pal Ian did check the FA rules and confirms they are the same as when the tie was switched before – but of course if Sutton don’t want to do it, that is entirely a matter for them. And the article gave me a chance to remember a past game… always like the nostalgia …

  12. In one way, I’m a bit disappointed in the draw. There’s still a bit of glory to be had in the FA Cup, and whilst not being a bumper gate fixture, Sutton playing Lincoln would have ensured one of them progressing.

  13. Samuel could also have added Dagenham and Redbridge, Gateshead and Maidstone Utd as ex Football League sides and wasn’t Macclesfield one too?

    I thought that the FA stopped the switching of ties to the Premier grounds after the controversy of the Farnborough match ?? Perhaps I’m wrong.

  14. The game can only be switched on safety reasons. Then it is switched to the nearest suitable ground. In this case Palace. Sutton will not profit by any switch. Excess funds will go into the FA coffers. The rules were changed after the Arsenal Farnborough tie.

  15. @bjtgooner: Do you think they been manipulating their balls once again?

    I would certainly think so. I wouldn’t put it beyond the “Gentlemen” at the FA to fiddle with their balls 😉

  16. Just went to read about Sutton United in this interesting article from BBC

    Apparently, the chair in the changing room is not long enough to contain 11 players hence some of the first team players and reserve will have to sit on the ground will changing.

    The away bench or beach as we like to call it can only host 12 bums and if I’m not mistaken, Arsenal backroom staff at matches are about that number so probably the reserves will have to sit on the floor.

    Not to those aspiring to be at the game, the away fans section has no sits. I know those wanting a standing area at the Emirates will enjoy this.

    This will really be a fun game to see on TV. I think it’s right after our UCL game with Bayern Munich.

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