Arsenal beat Cologne 3-1 in their first Europa League group game at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday but before the game got under way, it was postponed by an hour (until 9.05 p.m. BST) due to crowd safety concerns.
Thousands of seats designated for home fans were occupied by German fans all around the Emirates Stadium especially in the Clock end. Cologne had been allocated less than 3,000 tickets for this match, but an estimated 20,000 away fans showed up.
Clearly, thousands of Cologne supporters had been able to purchase tickets that were only on sale to club members. Some were undoubtedly supplied by touts, but it seems likely that plenty of Arsenal members also sold their tickets on to German fans.
That led to chaos outside the stadium as the German supporters blocked home fans from getting to the turnstiles.
Riot police was quickly called in, but there were no major incidents once the game started. A couple of flares were lit but it soon became clear that the boisterous Cologne fans were there to enjoy their first European game in 25 years — not to start fights. Eventually, police, UEFA and the clubs agreed that the safest option was still to go ahead with the game.
Metropolitan Police issued a statement after the match saying there were “no reports of any significant incidents. Five people have been arrested on suspicion of public order offences.”
UEFA and Arsenal are both set to investigate the incident and how so many away fans gained access to the stadium.
Arsene Wenger said after the game the club weren’t sure exactly how that happened.
“I don’t know how they managed to infiltrate our fans and get everywhere. But they did that very well,” Wenger said. “I don’t know, did they go through Arsenal membership, or the internet?”