Wembley Way ruins FA Cup Final for fleeced fans

Villa Park, April 1999. Ryan Giggs sends the Manchester United fans to the FA Cup final at Wembley with an unbelievable goal at the end of extra time against Arsenal. What a game. Drama, goals, a sending off, a penalty, (saved) passion and excitement. But most of all, a great atmosphere and football. FA Cup football at it’s very best.

Since 2008 and for the foreseeable future, the two FA Cup Semi-Finals are held at Wembley. Initially it was said that the money that it cost to build the fantastic new stadium has to be recouped, and this was one of the ways to get some money back. We are now seven years and 14 cup Semi-Finals down the line, surely a sizable amount of money has been brought back in here with attendances varying between 70 and 90 thousand supporters buying match tickets, merchandise and pints of beer!

Take Hull City for example. They defeated Sheffield United in the second Semi-Final this year after Arsenal beat Wigan on penalties the day before. Hull’s supporters find themselves making the four hour journey to the capital twice within the space of the month. That’s buying two lots of travel fares, two lots of pre match refreshments, (beers and food) and two lots of match tickets priced £45, £65, £85 or £115. Take your pick on the match tickets, you can sit in the expensive seats, or the very expensive seats. In calculating the financial aspects of these football games, I haven’t factored in whether or not you are a family either, imagine forking out for three or four times for these days out to take your kids to see their beloved team.

Fans will pay the prices to go to Wembley, because they love their club, especially Hull City who are newly promoted to the Premier League and have never lifted the FA Cup before and Arsenal, well, we all know about their desperation for silverware. So when the chance comes of the two teams going back to fight for the FA cup final, supporters of both clubs will break the bank, do a few extra shifts at work, stay in all month, all to be able to afford to see their team walk up the steps and win the trophy.

In my opinion the FA are exploiting the fact that football fans will do anything to pay to see their team at Wembley, and if they win the Semi-Final, not once but twice are they ready to fleece them. After Hull’s victory, it was announced the day after that each finalist will receive 25,000 match tickets to the final. A further 37,000 tickets going to sponsors and club Wembley members. This is very contradictory, when you log on the official Football Association website and the following statement reads:

‘Playing the Semi-Finals at Wembley is part of the stadium’s business plan which allowed The FA to build a 90,000 seater national stadium, but with the significantly greater number of tickets available this will allow more fans to attend each of the showpiece fixtures.’

How ironic. With the significant greater number of tickets available this will allow more fans to attend each of these showpiece fixtures. This line caught my eye. Is the Final not recognized as a showpiece fixture then, seeing as almost double the amount of fans are allowed to the Semi-Final, than the actual Cup Final itself? Absolutely ridiculous by the FA.

The FA Cup Semi-Finals should be held at a neutral ground. This would make getting to the final for the fans, that little bit sweeter and definitely lighter on the pocket, not as far to travel for some and that also brings a cheaper day altogether. Only the final should be at the national stadium with more tickets available to the teams’ supporters that make it there. A football fan that has followed Arsenal or Hull City all over the country for years may not have the opportunity to see their team win the FA Cup, all because the FA’s sponsors (who might not actually be interested in the beautiful game) get to have that die-hard fans’ seat instead.

Another idea if the FA are ever going to consider a different method for the FA Cup Semi-Final is why not have a two legged-tie? One game at each of the Semi-Finalists venues, like the League Cup Semi-Final’s. That way, none of the fans have to fork out for trips across the country, the respective teams charge what they would anyway for a league game and they would get a full house for a tie that is one step away from a trophy. Everyone a winner. Apart from the FA who wouldn’t get their pockets lined.

Both Semi-Final games were thrilling to watch, even though they were at the same venue as the Final. But the FA need to stop being greedy and taking the mickey out of fans love for their club. The FA might stand for Football Association. But it can almost be described as Fleecing Army that are the only winners at the moment, raking in fans wages left, right and centre all the way up Wembley Way.


Thank you for reading. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport – and “liking” our Facebook page.

Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our Footy writing team. Visit our “Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today!

Feel free to discuss this and other footy related articles with thousands of fans at r/football.

Main Photo: