Not so sweet 16 as City fans hit out at FA for making Wembley their second home
17 May 2019
Manchester City set for amazing 16th appearance at Wembley in last eight years in Saturday’s Cup final.
Fresh calls for the burden of cost to be eased on their supporters.
Manchester City fans are facing their 16th trip to Wembley in the last eight years for the FA Cup final on Saturday, which will also be their fifth visit this season.
That has led to calls for the Football Association to reconsider the disadvantage in cost for supporters travelling from northern clubs.
Four of those 16 trips to the capital have been for FA Cup semi-finals; the relocation of these matches to Wembley was a controversial policy implemented by the FA to help pay for the rebuilt national stadium, which opened in 2007.
No immediate plans
However, the FA insist the increased capacity that Wembley offers for the semi-finals is better for supporters, and they have no immediate plans to revert to using neutral venues.
City failed to sell their allocation for their last-four victory against Brighton last month and last year Southampton also had additional, unused tickets.
...you will have to bust a gut to get back to London to catch the last train to Manchester,
The five o’clock kick-off for the final against Watford this weekend is also problematic for supporters wishing to return to Manchester after Saturday’s game.
The Football Supporters’ Federation have been critical of the lack of understanding given to those fans wishing to attend the game from outside the capital.
Dictated by the FA
“If the match goes to extra time and penalties and you have the temerity to want to stay behind to watch the trophy being lifted, you will have to bust a gut to get back to London to catch the last train to Manchester,” said Dave Pennington, an FSF spokesman.
“Everything is dictated by the FA. They have said themselves they have massively increased their broadcasting deals and their sponsorship deals. They are inconveniencing fans because they are beholden to the BBC. It used to kick off at three o’clock, that is the tradition, but they get a bigger audience.
“On the travel logistics, the match kicks off at 5 o’clock because that’s what the BBC wants.”
City’s incredible run at Wembley in the last nine seasons will have seen them play four League Cup finals, four FA Cup semi-finals, three FA Cup finals, three Community Shields and two Premier League games against Tottenham by the time this campaign finishes.
And the tally for the last nine months alone will rise to five by the time the final starts against Watford on Saturday afternoon.
The 1894 Group of Manchester City supporters said:
“Not only are fans ripped off time after time but the allocations are poor.
...working class people often have to budget for these things - perhaps they can start showing our support a little more respect.
“City fans get criticised at times for their slow uptake of tickets but we were there when it counted and have nothing to prove to anyone. The club may have got richer but the fanbase hasn't.
“The semi versus Brighton was the game some fans had to swerve as they gambled on us reaching the final. In any case, taking 27,000 to a semi at say Villa Park would have been comparable with how it always was, i.e. the City v Ipswich semi in 1981.
Showing more respect
“Instead of attacking City fans for their sometimes slow uptake in buying tickets for yet another trip to Wembley - yes, working class people often have to budget for these things - perhaps they can start showing our support a little more respect. After all, it will be our club that will be playing there more often than not.”
The FSF added:
“The issue is there are several clubs, particularly in the north of England, who have to go to Wembley multiple times a season. Obviously Spurs playing there has added to that, and it is a burden and it is a cost. The 1894 Group are absolutely right. It is the overall cost burden that the fans are having to face.”