Proper football might well be paused at this moment in time with the Premier League taking a small break and making way for largely pointless England international friendlies, but you can always rely on the beautiful game to continue to rile up the fans as the Football Association prioritise their own profits and comforts over and above the real lifeblood of the game – the loyal travelling supporters.
Having taken an age to actually set the Liverpool versus Manchester FA Cup fixture in the calendar despite the draw for the Semi Final rounds taking place before Liverpool’s Quarter Final tie with Nottingham Forest last weekend, the Football Association continued to schedule it for Saturday, April 16, in spite of the fact that they were fully aware of planned roadworks to the motorway system as well as no public transport (trains) running from either Liverpool or Manchester to London that weekend.
Understandably, in light of that information and the additional cost and inconvenience both sets of supporters would suffer when attempting to make the trip, supporter groups and the mayors of the respective cities had requested a venue change to make life easier but the totalizators of Wembley profit rejected their request, almost out of hand.
This should not have really come as a surprise to anyone as neutral and more geographically sensible venues always added extra magic to a journey through to the FA Cup final, but upon the Wembley rebuild and the switch to Wembley having to host the Semi Finals, it was only ever about money with fans forced to pay bloated Wembley ticket prices and uber inflated food and drink costs, simply so the FA could bolster it’s Club Wembley Membership schemes to really cash in and they have never seen the irony in advertising those sections as taking ‘the best seat in the house’ seemingly because fans of the actual sides competing are an after thought.
Given the outcry and the obvious financial hypocrisy at play here, the FA’s next move was even more bizarre. They have arranged for unessential roadworks to be paused and then pledged to provide ‘a number of free return bus services’ (believed to be 100) for fans of both clubs that should ‘ensure that up to 5000 Liverpool and Manchester City supporters’ will be able to travel for free. Which is nice given the available capacity for each side on the day and the clear majority of travelling fans who will in no way benefit, or be saved from the extra costs or inconvenience, from this move.
It also actually does little to ease the additional congestion that motorways will naturally see anyway owing to it being a Bank Holiday weekend, and unfortunately, there is a high likelihood that even some of those fans who swallow the extra cost and put up with the inconvenience still might not even see the game, as it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that with the additional traffic, further unexpected delays could occur.
With the FA, clubs and managers long having seemed to undermine one of football’s greatest Cup traditions, it’s not a stretch to think that this could be the final straw for some – it’s not like we’re dealing with a spike in petrol prices or anything is it?
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