The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

IT’S easy to mock Wi­gan for fail­ing to sell out Wem­b­ley. The Pre­mier League Lat­ics shifted around 20,000 of their 31,000 al­lo­ca­tion for yes­ter­day’s FA Cup semi-fi­nal, while op­po­nents Mill­wall flogged the lot.

Easy, but wrong. This is a prob­lem wrought en­tirely by the FA and their on­go­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to hold FA Cup semi-fi­nals at Wem­b­ley.

It is not Wi­gan’s fault that their fans were forced to trail 200-odd miles to Lon­don. Nor that the kick-off was at 5.15, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to reach Eus­ton in time for the last train back to Wi­gan. So chuck in an overnight stay and you’re prob­a­bly look­ing at well over £200 all-in. For Mil­wall fans, it’s £2.50 on the Ju­bilee Line. Lit­tle won­der that many float­ing Lat­ics saved their cash in hope of a re­turn in the fi­nal.

Be­sides, Wi­gan only have 20,000 fans. That’s how many they took to Cardiff in the League Cup fi­nal in 2006. The record at­ten­dance at the JJB is only 25,000, and that con­tained a lot of Manch­ester United sup­port­ers.

Were the semi-fi­nals held at Villa Park or Hills­bor­ough, as per tra­di­tion, they’d have packed the place out no prob­lem. In­stead, both they and the FA were em­bar­rassed by swathes of empty seats.

I know the FA have to pay for Wem­b­ley. I know things aren’t go­ing to change. But that doesn’t make it right – and this fi­asco is a fine il­lus­tra­tion why.

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