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Arsenal agrees to cover bill for cleaning up sea of rubbish in Highbury Fields after Cologne match

PUBLISHED: 12:11 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:35 22 September 2017

Rubbish around the Emirates Stadium after the match last week. Picture: Cllr Caroline Russell

Rubbish around the Emirates Stadium after the match last week. Picture: Cllr Caroline Russell

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Arsenal will foot the bill for cleaning up Highbury Fields after last week’s Cologne match that saw thousands of fans unexpectedly descend on the park.

A sea of Cologne fans blocking Highbury Corner. Picture: Emily Bawtree/TwitterA sea of Cologne fans blocking Highbury Corner. Picture: Emily Bawtree/Twitter

The final cost is expected to be up to £5,000 although a final figure has yet to be calculated.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 FC Koln supporters travelled to Highbury to watch their team play in Arsenal’s first ever Europa League game. Some 2,900 tickets were available, leaving the majority of the visiting fans unable to get in.

The match was delayed by an hour and some Cologne fans donned Arsenal shirts in an attempt to get into the home stand.

Highbury Fields was left covered in glass and rubbish, with neighbours complaining about “vandalism” and intimidating behaviour. Council cleaners had it spotless by 9am, but the town hall asked Arsenal to cover the cost - and it said yes.

“They were very good about it,” council leader Richard Watts told the Gazette. “It’ll be a few thousand pounds.”

London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore last week said he believed the club should also pick up the tab for the policing operation outside the Emirates Stadium. Currently, Premier League clubs pay only for internal policing, with the Met shouldering almost all the £7million bill for additional cops on match days.

The visiting fans were filmed travelling through the West End but appeared to take the authorities by surprise when they arrived at Highbury and Islington station, completely blocking Highbury Corner as they headed to the Fields. Cllr Watts said the following day the police had dropped the ball in not warning the town hall about the huge numbers who were expected to arrive.

A club spokesman told the Gazette the contribution was being made due to the “exceptional circumstances” of the match. Similar scenes haven’t been witnessed since Arsenal played Dortmund in 2011 and an estimated 6,000 away fans turned up.

Highbury East councillor Caroline Russell (Green) told the Gazette she welcomed Arsenal’s move.

“Arsenal’s statement the next morning was just oblivious to the impact their event had on local people,” she said.

“Not everyone who lives in Highbury can go to the match – there just aren’t enough seats. An awful number of people were impacted and got all the negative without the joy of seeing their team play.”

Five people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences in the wake of the match. Three will face no further action, while two have been released under investigation.

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