THE Football Association have announced that Farnborough Town's mammoth FA Cup fourth round clash with Arsenal will be played at Highbury, the home of the Premiership champions, as a result of Farnborough's request.
FA chiefs decided to grant Boro's request on the grounds that they could not guarantee fans safety at their 4,163-capacity AIMITA Stadium.
Head of communications at the FA, Mr Paul Newman revealed: "The recommendation from that meeting was that the ground is not suitable to stage a major cup tie of this nature. "There were concerns about the facilities needed for such a game and the administration of the tie. Both clubs have been informed of the decision.''
The game at Highbury is instead set to go ahead at 3pm, although Boro should still benefit from their share of a £60,000 highlights fee, as well as 50 per cent of gate receipts.
Boro chief Graham Westley said: "We have to be sure people come to our ground and are safe and we couldn't give that guarantee. We hand to hold our hands up.
"It was the only decision to make."
Farnborough Town supporters are now getting ready for a cup final atmosphere at Highbury on January 25, even if the decision meant the club missing out on a £265,000 pay offer from BSkyB for television coverage.
Club officials have been meeting with Hampshire Police and Rushmoor Borough Council throughout the week to discuss the safety issue at the delapitated ground, and as a result of those discussions, Westley informed the media of the club's intentions during a press conference at the Grasshopper training ground.
It is feared that the AIMITA Stadium is not big enough or safe enough to host a game of this magnitude, and after an in-house meeting between Westley and his board of directors, it was agreed that no assurances could be made to prevent a "mass disaster" from happening if they tried to stage the game at home.
The matter was then put entirely in the hands of the FA, who warned that "safety and security issues were the only concerns" that would enable the tie to be switched.
Westley added: "The footballing reasons can not be allowed to cloud a decision that needs to be made on these grounds. Safety and security had to be the issue.
"As a board of directors we had to consider the financial aspect. There was a huge incentive for us in this regard but either way round there is an obvious financial benefit to the club."
Sky Television put a spanner in the works on Tuesday after announcing that it would broadcast the match live at 12.30pm on the condition that it took place at the AIMITA Stadium.
The ground is all ready to undergo a massive reconstruction to bring it up to Football League standards, but, as we speak, many questions are being asked about the suitability of toilet, parking and turnstile facilities, while concerns are also being raised about the time available to erect temporary improvements, including the perimeter wall which is hardly much of a barrier to stop ticketless fans from gaining entry.
Tempting as that Sky offer was for Westley, he still decided to request the switch in the knowledge that his side would still net 50 per cent of gate receipts at Highbury — a 38,000 all-seater stadium — which would amount to around £600,000.
That, coupled with various other monies gained through television rights, and the £105,000 the club have already won from their FA Cup exploits this season, would give the club a £750,000 pay packet.
Commerical manager and right back Micky Warner stood by the club's decision to request the switch, indicating that it was also the preference of the players.
He said: "A lot of people want us to play it here but the problem is whether the ground is secure and safe enough to stage such a big game.
"That is for the club to decide along with the safety authorities. Certainly the players would love to play at Highbury though.
"That opportunity probably only comes round once in your life and a lot of fans are wondering whether they would be able to get tickets at home.