Arsenal v Cologne kick-off delayed by an hour over crowd safety

British media reports that over 20,000 Cologne fans are in London for the game

Kick-off in the Europa League group stage match between Arsenal and FC Cologne was delayed by an hour on Thursday in the interests of crowd safety, the North London club said.

The group H clash was due to kick-off at 8.05pm. However, Arsenal’s official Twitter account announced that kick-off had been delayed just 45 minutes before the match.

Thousands of ticketless Cologne supporters turned up at the Emirates Stadium and those fans with tickets were unable to gain access to the ground.

Hundreds of Cologne supporters were being held behind a police cordon as order was being restored in and around the away turnstiles.

No further delays were anticipated but another problem occurring was the number of away fans attempting to enter the home sections of the stadium with legitimate tickets.

Earlier on Thursday, Cologne supporters flooded into central London as around 20,000 fans of the Bundesliga side were expected in the capital despite only 3,000 tickets being available.

Fans took to the streets in their numbers, with social media posts showing hordes of supporters singing and marching around Oxford Circus.

Ahead of the delay, Arsenal’s official website warned Cologne fans they faced being asked to leave the stadium if they purchased tickets in the home sections of the ground.

”Please note visiting supporters that purchase a ticket in the home end for this fixture are likely to be ejected from the stadium,” a statement on their website read.

Cologne currently sit bottom of the Bundesliga having lost all three of their league games so far – but they reached the Europa League having finished fifth last season.

Head coach Peter Stoger was asked on the eve of the game if he had a message for the thousands of fans making the trip, to which the Austrian replied: ”Enjoy the pubs!”