James Lawton: Fans bottom of agenda

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It is a rare impulse indeed, but on this occasion it is not to be denied. Supporting Ken Bates's complaints about the absurdity of having Chelsea and Fulham supporters travel to Birmingham on a Sunday night is indeed no hardship at all.

On one level the decision highlights the unsatisfactory relationship between football and the police authorities, who exact a high price, and offer minimum co-operation, for their often inadequate services.

The big factor, however, is the widespread assumption that the British people will tolerate any inconvenience in pursuit of their over-priced pleasures. In France and most other civilised countries, the announcement of the time and the venue of the FA Cup would have been greeted by a thunderous raspberry. Here, there is mostly a dull acceptance that this is the way it is always likely to be.

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