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Volume 10 No. 22

Events and Attractions

The FA "has been forced to give away tickets" for this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal between EPL side Wigan Athletic and League Championship club Millwall," according to Sarah Ebner of the LONDON TIMES. But despite its efforts, the game, at Wembley Stadium, "is still expected to be 10-15,000 under capacity." While Sunday’s "blue riband game between Manchester City and Chelsea is sold out," and Millwall is expected to sell all of its 31,000 allocation, Wigan has been "left with about 11,000 unsold tickets." An FA spokesperson admitted that, because of this, "the governing body has decided to 'proactively do something to combat and support the attendance on Saturday.'" The FA "was keen to point out that the competition as a whole has had a combined attendance of 1.65 million this season, including the best crowds in more than 30 years for both the fifth and sixth rounds." After the semifinals and final, attendances "will be close to two million fans this season, on a par with previous years" (LONDON TIMES, 4/11).

STRONG DEFENSE: In London, Simon Stone reported Wigan Manager Roberto Martinez "has defended the club's failure to sell" its entire allocation. Martinez "prefers to focus on the incredible strides made since the club were in the bottom tier of English football following his arrival as a player" in '95. He said, "It's not about the numbers. The numbers need to have a meaning. Back in 1995, when I arrived at the football club, we had gates of 2,000 people. Now we are in the best league in the world, and we are in the semifinal of the best cup competition -- for us to take whatever figure it is represents an incredible percentage of the town" (INDEPENDENT, 4/11).