‘Thank fans’ official taken off duty

The assistant referee who told Manchester City players to thank fans who had paid £62 (€75) for tickets against Arsenal has been taken off duty for tonight’s FA Cup third-round replay between West Brom and QPR.

It is understood the action is not intended as a punishment by referees’ chiefs at Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) but to remove John Brooks, inset left, a relatively new professional official, from the limelight.

Brooks was broadcast on TV during the post-match handshakes saying to City defender Joleon Lescott: “They’ve paid 62 quid over there, go and see them.”

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup added his voice to calls for tickets to be reasonably priced for fans following the controversy over City’s fixture last Sunday.

Swansea fans have paid £35.50 (€43)for an adult ticket for tonight’s game at Arsenal, while the club have subsidised travel so supporters pay just £5 (€6) for the trip on official coaches.

“It is expensive to watch games, we have to remember that this is a world with a lot of money for clubs, managers and players, but people in the stands don’t have this,” Laudrup said.

“They are workers and we have to remember that. It’s important because we don’t want to play in half-full stadiums, we want the atmospheres we love.

“We have to remember that those who come into the stadiums here, there and everywhere work hard for their money.”

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