The FA’s response to the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC on Easter weekend, when there are no direct trains from either city to London, is to charter 100 free coaches. A case of too little, too late, it also does nothing for the majority of fans involved.
Expecting a minimum of 66,000-plus supporters to travel to Wembley from the northwest makes little sense to begin with, but without the availability of train travel it is ridiculous.
The FA, according to Network Rail bosses, were told about the engineering works two years ago. They could and should have had contingency plans in place. Adding more coaches to the already overcrowded Easter weekend roads is against their own sustainability policies and still puts pressure on fans – it is the only way to get there.
Of course, some of those travelling may want to use the free transport, but as yet the FA have given no information on how their gesture will work: how to book, departure times and places, etc.
And what about the thousands and thousands who don’t get on one of these coaches, who will still need to make their way to London?
The FA are not going to change the date or venue for this game, but we urge that they think about future fixtures, such as playing semi-finals at neutral grounds that aren’t Wembley and checking national travel itineraries. Their decision is purely financial and an insult to both sets of supporters, who again are nothing more than an afterthought. Unless fans begin to be put at the forefront of the national association’s planning, FA will stand for more than Football Association. And it won’t be sweet.
Joint statement with Manchester City’s We are 1894 group.