FA SELL WIGAN FANS DOWN RIVER
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.