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SBD Global/April 17, 2013/International Football
Late Kickoff For FA Cup Final Riles Man City, Wigan Fans Who Will Face Travel Headaches
Published April 17, 2013
MADE FOR TV: In London, Andy Hunter reported the FA has been "accused of prioritizing television revenue over supporters' welfare." For the second season in a row, the FA's showpiece event "will be played on an evening when train services from London to the north will be disrupted by engineering work." Wigan Athletic Supporters Club believes that decision "should allow the final to start at 3pm." Taylor: "It seems the FA are more interested in what the television companies want than the logistics of supporters getting to and from their final." FA General Secretary Alex Horne last week "defended the late kick-off times on the basis of their appeal to a television audience." Horne: "We're now used to consuming our football in those time slots. It really works. Lunchtime kick-offs just haven't got the same appeal" (GUARDIAN, 4/16).
TRAIN TROUBLE: The MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS reported Virgin is "unlikely to put extra trains on." In a statement, Virgin said, "The unpredictability of exactly when the match will end, coupled with the earlier close down of the route for essential maintenance and inspection means that the planning of any additional services is extremely difficult given the high numbers of supporters that would attempt to return to the North West that evening" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 4/16). In London, Ladyman & King reported Virgin did say it "would help City and Wigan supporters return to the North West a day after the Cup final." Virgin's statement added, "We are of course more than happy to bring Wigan and Manchester City supporters down to London on the Saturday and for them to return on the Sunday. We are looking at the possibility of running an additional service from Wigan on Saturday morning" (DAILY MAIL, 4/16).
HOTELIERS DREAM: Also in London, Tony Barrett opined for London hoteliers, the late kick-off is "great news." For the tens of thousands of supporters who will travel to London from the Northwest, "it is an absolute inconvenience, one that borders on being an imposition." The FA "will defend itself vigorously." The kick-off time "is the same as last year’s, they will say." They will also point out, "quite rightly, that this is the continuation of an established policy and not a deviation from it." However, such defenses "will count for nothing to those who will leave Wembley after the final with very little chance of public transport being available to take them back to Manchester or Wigan" (LONDON TIMES, 4/16).