With over 10,000 supporters descending upon Sharjah Stadium, the visitors have only secured 1,200 tickets and are attempting to negotiate with the hosts for moreA potentially dangerous situation could be in the cards for this weekend's UAE Pro League match between Sharjah and Al Ain as thousands of fans are predicted to show up at the stadium without tickets.
With fears emerging over potential incidents should supporters from both clubs be seated in the main stands, Saturday's fixture is the latest example of UAE clubs struggling to balance security needs with a desire to increase attendance.
"I can't believe in this professional era a paying customer will walk up to the ground to buy a ticket and be asked who [they] support," former Al Wasl chairman Abdullah Hareb, who is presently campaigning for the FA presidency, told The National. "You should not equate segregation with safety.
"Ticket sales should be a good source of revenue for clubs and if we have fans willing to buy tickets, then they should be looking at this from an economic perspective and not thinking how having fewer away fans there will give the home team an edge."
Just ten per cent of the 12,000 tickets available for the match have been allotted to the visitors, but a request for a larger allocation was rejected after it came too late to be considered.
"We asked for 30 per cent but not in the regulated time," Al Ain chief executive Carlo Nohra said to The National. "The response was negative which is their right as we made the request late.
"[Sharjah] are usually very accommodating. But this is their right and there is only so much pushing we can do without it being detrimental to our relationship."
While the hosts could make more tickets available, a decision will not be made until as late as hours before Saturday's scheduled kickoff.
"We are aware Al Ain has a big fan base and may consider a bigger allocation on the day of the match," a Sharjah spokesman told the same paper. "Should the club management decide to provide them 20 per cent or more, we will make arrangements to have a clear demarcation for the fans from the two clubs."
With seven matches remaining, Al Ain lead the Pro League by seven points and are in position to win the league for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.