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Friday, 13 March 2015

Nothing changes with the FA

It's not for the fans


The Football Association has taken the moral high ground over FIFA with regards custodianship of football. FIFA is an organisation that cares more about the money it can generate, by whichever means, for those that are privileged to run the game. The FA has taken a stand against this, rightly, in order to highlight that FIFA is not good for football. Sadly our Football Association is incapable of keeping it's own house in order as it continues to destroy the flagship FA Cup. And, on this occasion, it has nothing to do with TV companies making Arsenal travel to Manchester on a Monday evening.
Arsenal have revealed that our initial allocation for the FA Cup semi-final is less than 32,000 tickets. Last year we took 52,000 people to the semi-final against Wigan. I fully accept that, unless the opposition is incapable of selling a large number of tickets then giving Arsenal more than 50% of the seats at Wembley would be unfair. However, if you (rightly) assume that Reading or Bradford would also receive the same as Arsenal then you are left with 26,000 seats going anywhere other than the two clubs. Of course the Club Wembley seats are the major problem in terms of people being there who have nothing to do with the sides that are playing, but that still doesn't account for all of the rest of the tickets.
For the Final things get even worse, as we all know. Every year there is widespread condemnation of how Wembley FA Cup tickets are divvied up (apart from those associations, leagues and clubs that get tickets that should rightly belong to those who go and watch their clubs week in, week out). Arsenal have expressed to the FA that they are "disappointed" with the allocation for the semi-final, just as they had to for both FA Cup games at Wembley last year. Almost every club has the same conversation when they get to an FA Cup showpiece game. And yet nothing ever changes. The FA are so stuck up their own arrogant backsides that they still wish to involve their "FA Family" in the big game. Meanwhile, England games are being played out in front of seemingly ever dwindling attendances. Surely they must see a way how they could use the opportunity there to involve their "FA Family".
All of this, of course, is overlooking the fact that FA Cup semi-finals should be nowhere near Wembley in the first place - Stamford Bridge is over 40,000 now so could comfortably hold Arsenal v Spurs, while the Etihad is big enough for Man Utd v Liverpool games at this stage. We should be travelling to Villa Park should Bradford get through, or to Chelsea or Tottenham if Reading were successful. There was something unique about going to the neutral ground for a semi-final. The FA managed to spoil that before it moved them all to Wembley by insisting on Old Trafford always being used. That aside, it was a surreal and enjoyable day out to go to Villa Park or wherever for a semi-final tie. It was an atmosphere that was just totally different to any other game. The most important thing was that tickets went to the clubs playing, and not to some corporate sponsor with no interest in the game. Less tickets, but all fairly shared. Sadly it's yet another game that the self-styled saviours of football have managed to totally mess up. After all, football is not about the fans, just so long as the executives and sponsors are having a good drink.

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