Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Late FA Cup final kick-off is wrong train of thought

Before making my own travel arrangements for the FA Cup final I went through the motions of checking the Football Association and BBC websites to confirm the kick-off time: "TBC".

In other words, television hadn't yet confirmed what time they wanted it to start.

When it was announced as 5.15pm, as last year and probably fixed for evermore, there was hardly a murmur of dissent from the fans. They know, as we all should by now, that this 'war' has been lost. The authorities couldn't care less about the inconvenience for Manchester City and Wigan supporters who cannot possible catch the last trains home.

'Helpfully' the FA pointed them in the direction of the coach company that is one of its partners.

Remember those distant times when the Cup final was THE football day of the year, uncluttered by any other football considerations?

Well, Chelsea play at Villa in a televised game before the Cup final starts (Sky will only mention the final through gritted teeth since they don't have it) and there are seven other Premier League fixtures the following day.

And, never mind those sparsely populated 'Club Wembley' seats in the middle tier of the stadium, 23,000 tickets are distributed among sponsors, clubs and county associations – that's more than Wigan are getting and almost as much as City's allocation. Pathetic.

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