I’ve been to my fair share of FA Cup semis at Villa Park over the years, the most recent coming a couple of years back against Watford. It’s a nice atmosphere down there and it doesn’t take forever to get to.
Since building the new Wembley, the FA have wanted to get as many games played there as possible. I was there for the first FA Cup final there, when United painfully lost at the death to Chelsea, but there’s no way I’d bother with a semi there. Partly because of the pain in the arse of having to get down to London, but mainly because of my frustration with the FA.
The semis are played at a lovely time of year, the sun is shining outsie today and you don’t want to be a train to bloody London, paying an arm and a leg to sit in a seat you’d be vying after if you win that match. Playing the semi and final at the same venue takes away all the specialness of the final.
Trips to Wembley should be the pinnacle of a player’s career and they should be the most special day in the year for the fans. As it stands, as many as 56 different players will play in the FA Cup at Wembley every season.
The final is in six weeks time. An off peak return to London from Manchester costs close to £70 (when booked a month in advance). Add to that the £5 you’ll have to pay to travel around on the tube. You’re looking at £7 for a burger, £4.50 for a pie or £1.50 for a packet of crisps. Add to that the price of your ticket and drinking money in the capital, you’re looking at £200. A train ticket to Birmingham is less than half what you pay to get to London, setting you back just £28, then add to that the reduced prices of the Midlands compared to the capital. If you’re planning on attending the semi and the final it’ll set you back a fortune! But that’s only if you can get your hands on a ticket.
The FA have always been dicks to us over ticket allocation anyway, with our last semi-final at Villa Park seeing us being given fewer tickets that Watford, who couldn’t even sell all of them!
The benefit of playing at Wembley should be that loads more fans get to watch their team play in an important game. Villa Park seats 42,640 whilst the new Wembley seats 90,000. Now, if I remember correctly, United got 17,000 seats at their last semi at Villa Park, whilst Watford got 19,000. Despite the capacity rising by 47,360, United fans will be given just 7,000 more tickets than we got at Villa Park!
Both United and Everton have been given 25,000 tickets each, with the remaining 40,000 tickets going to sponsors and god knows who else. Disgusting.
United have asked for more tickets but the FA have turned us down.
As previously mentioned on this website, it’s an absolute joke that the FA have approved for the all-London final to be played on Saturday whilst the all-Northern final is played on Sunday afternoon.
How totally thoughtless is that? The FA couldn’t give a shit less about the fans and even when it was pointed out to them how ridiculous their plans were, they said it was too late. Why should 50,000 people make the journey from the North West make the journey to and from London on Sunday afternoon, not getting back until way after midnight on Monday morning if it goes to extra-time or pens, when all the cockney fans get to sit at home with their feet up, having already played their match on the Saturday? It’s ludicrous!
The manager’s reaction
“The FA have obviously got to pay off Wembley, which is the reason the game is down there,” said Ferguson. “With so many games there already you can understand why they utilise it for semi-finals as well. But it is hard when the final is there as well. Getting to the final should be the reward and the incentive for every footballer in the game. At one stage you could only play at Wembley by reaching the FA Cup final. We didn’t have play-offs or anything. It lost that real feeling of getting to the top of the tree by reaching Wembley. I have always thought semi-final day at Villa Park was a fantastic occasion. The atmosphere is brilliant. This will be the second time we have been to Wembley and I do remember that Oldham match was not a particularly good game. They don’t have Manchester United’s support and could not bring the numbers.”
Fuck the FA!