FA defend final kick-off time after Liverpool fans express anger

 

The Football Association have defended their decision to change the FA Cup final's traditional 3pm kick-off time despite the travel chaos it is set to create for Liverpool fans.

Wembley's May 5 encounter between the Reds and Chelsea will start at 5.15pm but with maintenance work on the rail network over the May Day bank holiday weekend, many supporters may face the prospect of not being able to get back home after the game.

A change to the kick-off time was mooted almost a year ago and the FA claim extensive fan research backs up their choice, although they admitted television coverage plays a significant part.

 

"We stated on record at the end of last season's final that we were looking at a later kick-off time after an FA review of the competition with fans and broadcasters," said a spokesman.

"Research showed that 5.15pm was more appealing than 3pm.

"5.15pm obviously gives people a chance to attend or play in a game earlier that day before watching the final on TV.

"The later time also maximises a bigger domestic and global TV audience for broadcasters."

But while the television audience will be happy as they settle down for an early evening kick-off, thousands of fans who attend the match are more likely to be worrying about how they are getting home.

Engineering work, planned up to 18 months in advance, by Network Rail over the bank holiday weekend means Virgin Trains have cancelled all but three of their Liverpool to London services on the day of the final.

And while fans are being advised to travel to the capital via Manchester, Chester or Stoke, there appears to be no means of making the return journey as there are no trains returning to the north-west after the game.

Further engineering work near Milton Keynes means return journey times of over five hours for those hoping to travel back the day after.

"As we explained to the FA, the choice of both a 5.15pm kick-off and the staging of the FA Cup final on a bank holiday weekend when Network Rail had already planned essential route improvement works means we cannot offer fans the level of train service they have come to expect," said a Virgin Trains spokesman.

A Network Rail spokesman added: "Unfortunately, with the FA Cup final earlier in the month than usual and with the FA choosing a later kick-off time, it has resulted in Liverpool fans being unable to return by train."

Liverpool fans, some of whom had to get up at 3am to make their way to Wembley for Saturday's semi-final victory over Everton which kicked off at 12.30pm, feel hard done to by the authorities.

"The FA running the game in this country is an absolute joke," a spokesman for the Merseyside branch of the Liverpool FC Official Supporters Club told Press Association Sport.

"Once again the FA Cup has been totally and utterly devalued. It should have kicked off at 3pm. The last people who are thought of by the FA are the fans. Football fans don't matter to anyone.

"We are seen as a money-making machine who will do anything to follow their clubs.

"And the fact Chelsea fans can spend all day drinking in London as they don't have any travel problems means there is then the potential for trouble."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?