Sunderland fans blocked from buying tickets for Wimbledon game
Sunderland fans desperate to see the club's promotion push have been stopped from buying tickets for home areas at Saturday's game at AFC Wimbledon.
The Black Cats quickly sold out their allocation of 735 tickets for the League One clash at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, which has the smallest capacity in the Football League.
Some enterprising fans began snapping up tickets for home area of the ground directly from AFC Wimbledon, but it quickly became aware of the ploy, and cancelled their purchases.
But fans who hadn't previously bought tickets for The Dons' games received a message saying: "Unfortunately we have been made aware that some away fans have been buying tickets in the home end.
"Due to you not having a previous booking history with us, I am afraid for this game we are going to have to cancel your ticket and issue you with a full refund."
A spokesman for Sunderland AFC said: "We have sold out all of our away games to date, including tomorrow evening’s game against Gillingham.
"SAFC’s allocation for the Wimbledon game was 735 tickets and it sold out on the 42 points stage, five days into sales.
"The game is sold out for both home and away fans, so supporters won’t be able to buy tickets in the home end."
David Charles, operations director and club secretary for AFC Wimbledon, said: "The capacity of The Cherry Red Records Stadium is just over 5,000, which makes us one of the smallest grounds in the EFL. We have 3,100 season ticket holders.
"The EFL rules require that we give away supporters 10% of the total capacity, i.e. 500, and we have allocated 770, which is over 15%.
"Our average gate last season was 4,325, which, when you take into account the fact that away fans did not always take up all their places, means the demand for places in the home sections averaged about 90%. This is why we are planning a move to a new stadium.
"We understand and sympathise with the frustration of Sunderland fans who are used to visiting larger stadiums, but given these figures and the configuration of our stadium, it is not practical to offer more places to away fans for all-ticket games like this.
"Sunderland have been allocated the maximum we can ever give any visiting club. We are a welcoming club, but we are of course taking steps to avoid visiting fans in home areas."
AFC Wimbledon was founded by former Wimbledon FC supporters in 2002 after the Football Association allowed that club to relocate to Milton Keynes (and later become MK Dons).
They entered the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League, the ninth tier of English football, and have been promoted six times in 13 seasons.
In December 2017, the club received final permission to begin work on the construction of a new stadium on the site of the defunct Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, only 250 yards away from Plough Lane, Wimbledon FC's home until 1991.
The club aim to have the stadium ready to move in to in 2019, and it will have an initial capacity of 11,000, with the option of increasing to a 20,000 capacity at a later date.
In the meantime, however, they play at Kingsmeadow, which is also the home of Kingstonian FC from the Isthmian League and Chelsea Football Club Women.