Outside the Box: Madness of having full top-flight programme on same day as FA Cup final
Sunday 27 March 2011
Exciting as it may be to have the Champions' League final at Wembley on 28 May, the demands and restrictions that Uefa put on the occasion are not only keeping Football Association staff at full stretch but are causing all sorts of other ramifications.
The Football League have already had to be compensated for moving the League One and League Two play-off finals to Old Trafford that weekend and Premier League clubs are slowly coming to terms with the unprecedented situation of having a full programme scheduled for the same day as the FA Cup final on 14 May. Under normal circumstances, the final would have been on 28 May, a week after the League season finished.
Uefa, however, insist that no matches be played at their venue in the 10 days beforehand, and with Wembley not available on 4 June, when England are at home to Switzerland, the FA's showpiece has had to be brought forward by a fortnight.
Clubs like Birmingham City (playing Fulham) and Liverpool (against Tottenham) have put their home games back to the following day and others are expected to follow suit; but Sky Sports will want to show a match at lunchtime, giving fans a rush to get home in time for the final.
Then, of course, the two finalists will have to move their scheduled matches, which if Manchester United are involved will add another complication to the title race. United are due to play at Blackburn while the other games that could be affected are Manchester City against Stoke City and Bolton's trip to Blackpool.
Stoke Ladies beat Stoke Ladies
Meanwhile, as Stoke fans clamour for 32,000 tickets for their first FA Cup semi-final since 1972, the club's women's team, Stoke City Ladies, have won their own final, in the Staffordshire FA County Cup, by beating – Stoke City Ladies.
The first team, who play in the Midlands Combination League, two levels below the new FA Women's League, were holders, but their own reserve team also fought their way through to the final. The winners are dedicating their success to Terry Conroy, the Stoke legend of the '71 and '72 semis (both lost in a replay to Arsenal), who is recovering in hospital after emergency surgery on an aneurysm.
Euell never walk alone
The good cause of the week is the children's charity Jigsaw4U, which has been supported for the past eight years by Blackpool's Jason Euell, who was at the House of Lords last Tuesday to launch a video for the single 'Little Tommy' in which he features.
It is on sale on iTunes as of yesterday with all profits going to Jigsaw4U, a charity that helps young people and their families who have experienced "grief, loss and trauma".
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