August 21 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Thursday, May 15, 2014
A lifelong Arsenal fan will have a bitter taste in his mouth on Sunday – even if the club’s nine-year wait for silverware comes to an end.
Matthew Reed, 61, has sold scarves, hats and flags outside Arsenal’s home stadium for 45 years, but will not be allowed to benefit from a potential FA Cup triumph.
Islington Council have told all traders that they will not be allowed to sell to crowds expected to number in the hundreds of thousands for the proposed three-hour victory reception on Sunday – as they want as much space as possible for fans.
Mr Reed says such events were the holy grail for traders and that he expected those from further afield, who had less to lose, to take advantage.
“Receptions are the biggest thing we ever have – there will be 250,000 people who all want a flag or a scarf, it’s a big celebration,” said Mr Reed.
“You look forward to something for so long and then they just pull the rug from under your feet. It will ruin it for us, it will take the edge off of everything.
Mr Reed, who sets his stall up in a garden close to the Emirates, started selling merchandise when he was 16 to raise money to go to games. Since then he has only missed 17 home matches.
He pays £800 for a licence to sell at home games each season and will pay £40 on Saturday to set up his stall outside the ground, where Arsenal’s clash with Hull City will be shown on the big screen.
A letter from the council to sellers said that the police did not want traders at the potential parade, but Islington Police have said that the decision was made by the council alone.
Mr Reed said: “You’ll get all the traders from up north who will come down and go to work and take money. They’ll take their names and addresses, they’ll go back home with their £1,000 and they’ll pay their fine which will be about £50. If we take the risk and get caught we’ll lose our licence and lose our livelihoods.”
Jan Hart, Islington Council’s director of public protection, said: “We normally only permit street trading on Arsenal home games or international matches. Street traders have asked if they can trade for the screening of the FA Cup Final at the Emirates, but due to arrangements that will need to be put into place straight after the game if Arsenal are successful, it’s only been possible to allow limited trading for non-food sellers until kick-off at 5pm.
“If Arsenal win the cup, we want as many fans as possible to be able to come and enjoy it. We are expecting a large crowd and we haven’t allowed street trading to ensure that there’s plenty of space to view.”