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Not often I have any sympathy for Liverpool fans and Manchester City supporters BUT…

3 months ago
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You have to have every sympathy for the Liverpool fans and Manchester City supporters.

Now before you think I have taken leave of my senses, I will explain.

Now as a Newcastle United fan, this is obviously not about winning trophies, well, not directly anyway.

Instead, it is about the FA Cup semi-final that Liverpool fans and Manchester City supporters can look forward to next month.

Now I know what some of you are going to say, as Newcastle fans we wouldn’t mind where it was, would just be grateful for getting to semi-final etc BUT that isn’t the point.

Basically, Liverpool fans and Manchester City fans are expected to go to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final, with the added obstacle of work on the railway lines (which has been scheduled for a couple of years and the FA etc knew all about) meaning you can’t get direct trains to London on the weekend of the match from either Manchester or Liverpool.

The mayors of the two cities have called for the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Liverpool to be moved away from Wembley, the match due to take place over the weekend of 16-17 April, but exact date and kick-off time is yet to be confirmed.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, the mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool respectively, have written a joint letter to the FA (a letter which is supported by both Liverpool fans and Manchester City supporters groups) which includes:

“Without quick, direct trains, many people will be left with no option but to drive, fly, make overly complex rail journeys or book overnight accommodation.

“When you factor in the rising costs of fuel, it is clear that supporters of both clubs attending this game will face excessive cost and inconvenience – and that is before any environmental impact is considered.

“There are also significant logistical and safety considerations. With thousands of fans making the long journey south, there will be huge numbers converging on the M6, which is likely to be stretched to capacity by bank holiday traffic.

“A single accident would risk the entire motorway being brought to a standstill and fans missing the kick-off.

“Over the last year, we have heard the slogan ‘football without fans is nothing’ many times.

“If this decision is left to stand, and people are either priced out of this game or unable to attend for other reasons, those words will be meaningless to many.

“We believe the most obvious solution is to move the game to a more accessible stadium and offer to work constructively with you to make that happen.”

The FA said on Monday that it was working with both clubs and transport bodies to ensure fans would be able to get to and from Wembley with a statement reading: “We are also continuing to work with both Network Rail and National Express to find a solution so that supporters of both teams are able to travel to and from the fixture with as minimal disruption as possible.”

The bottom line appears to be that The FA are insistent that no matter what, they want this (and all other FA Cup semi-finals every year) to be played at Wembley.

The reason being that they need to generate as much money as possible from hosting events at Wembley, to pay off the ridiculous amount of money that was spent (as well as interest on loans) to build the new Wembley, a financial situation that has been made even worse for them by Covid impact.

So as a Newcastle United fan, do you still wonder why I have sympathy for Liverpool fans and Manchester City supporters? Indeed, regardless of them, do I really need to explain why this (insistence on the game being at Wembley) is so ludicrous for countless other reasons?

Here they are anyway…

The idea of two clubs that are both within 30 miles of Old Trafford, having to then see all their fans travel to Wembley instead, which only has a 10% or so bigger capacity, is ludicrous to start with.

Then you have The FA insisting the game is at Wembley because they have got themselves into a massive financial hole, with the expectation that then 70,000 or so ordinary people / football fans who are facing a huge cost of living crisis, have to pay loads of extra unnecessary money (and in many cases will have to go into more debt to afford the trip) to watch their team in the semi-final.

You then have this very significant extra issue, whereby nobody can get a direct train to London from Liverpool or Manchester. Massive extra inconvenience for so many people.

That train issue will then also increase the sheer number of coaches and cars etc having to travel so many unnecessary mile to London. As well as the expense, the extra harm to the environment and climate change, global warming etc of all that traffic having to make long journeys (400+ miles round trip) from the north west, instead of it being a very short journey.

Honestly, just how out of touch are the people at The FA?

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