Sport on the Internet

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The Independent Online
WATCH THE Royal Box in Saturday's FA Cup Final, and, if all has gone well, no one should be wearing Manchester United or Newcastle colours. According to the quasi-official Wembley Website, the Queen is given advance notice of who is playing so that her dress can be co-ordinated to favour neither side.

It is a good job she does not have to rely on an official Website, Wembley does not have one yet. What's On At Wembley, an independent site authorised by the stadium, fills in by giving news, an informative history of the stadium, and who is in the bidding to do what with the Twin Towers. But there is total silence on the stadium's penultimate Cup Final. It is too late to chase tickets, but not even a listing? You might expect the final would have its own official Website. Not quite. A run through the search engines for an official page is unrewarding.

You can visit the Sky Sports FA Cup site. As far as sites go, it provides a decent enough mix of news and features (including fans' reports) from the earlier rounds, and details of the competition's leading scorers, but previews, as such, are limited to standard news stories rather than being specifically Cup focused.

The official club pages are not in the business of building up interest, either. The Old Trafford virtual reality tour notwithstanding, both are fairly staid online corporate brochures keen on selling a culture, rather than acting as a community focus.

Unofficial sites are better. For Newcastle, NUFC has easily accessible opinion, news, video clips, reports on the opposition, stats and prizes contingent on passing a "genuine fan test". Talk Of The Tyne is even richer on opinion, with no-holds barred pen portraits of the players, links to less than reverent external reports, and arguments why Ruud Gullit should not be allowed near any broadcasters' microphones.

Theatre Of Dreams is an obvious title for a Manchester United site, but its pages are interesting. Supporters of other teams will be be amused to read of Man Utd fans being convinced that referees are out to spoil their season.

The site is graphically neat and has its own Professor Hawkins sound- alike robotically chanting a hymn to the fourth round comeback against Liverpool.

Site Addresses

What's On At Wembley

http://ds.dial.pipex.com/amd-webdesign/wcwmbfr.htm

Sky Sports FA Cup

http://www.skysports.co.uk/skysports/football/facup

Manchester United Official Site

http://www.manutd.com/

Newcastle United Official Site

http://www.nufc.co.uk/home.htm

Newcastle United Unofficial Site

http://www.nufc.com/Talk Of The Tynehttp://www.swan.co.uk

The Theatre of Dreams

http://mufc.simplenet.com[ends]

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