Monday, March 14, 2011

The scandalous rip-off that is the FA Cup semi finals...

So then United have been drawn against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final. Realistically, United are the only club left in the competition who can stop City from ending that trophyless Hoodoo that has been haunting the club for 35 years. Most neutral fans wanted this match up to be the final, but alas that wasn't to be.

The problem for many supporters is the semi-final venue, Wembley itself. The decision to play all FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley has for many supporters taken something away from the competition. It simply isn't the same competition that it used to be. Going to Wembley for the FA Cup final used to something really special. It isn't special any longer - partly because both finalists and their supporters will have already been to Wembley for the semi-final.

So why was the decision taken to play the semi-finals at Wembley? The answer is simple, money. Supporters are being fleeced by the FA and the company who runs Wembley.

The cost of rebuilding Wembley was totally off the scale at £798m and someone has to pay; sadly for us supporters, it was always going to be the fans. In comparison, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium cost just £121m to build.

Two years ago I attended a Sportsmans Dinner. The guest speak was former Burnley striker and now "Stadiologist". Fletcher has advised on the construction of 30 stadium projects both large and small throughout the UK and Europe. For two years he was the commercial director of the new Wembley project. However, Fletcher resigned and in his resignation letter he made it clear why he was leaving: he said the project was going to be very late and very over budget.

Fletcher isn't some bloke you bump into in the bar who has a theory on such an emotive issue as the scandalous rebuidling costs of new Wembley - he was effectively in charge of the project for two years...

In is after dinner speech, Fletcher made the comparison with the construction costs of Cardiff's Millennium stadium. Fletcher didn't elaborate on what exactly went wrong with the Wembley project, but he said "it didn't have to be like that"... and that is why he resigned.

As a direct result of that shambolic rebuilding project and in particular the scandalous construction cost, supporters of English clubs have been left to foot the bill and that is why United will be facing City at Wembley.

Media pundits have been asking why the FA Cup has lost its appeal and sadly too many numpties are still (a decade later) blaming Manchester United who pulled out of the competition in 2000 to play in the World Club Championship in Brazil - a decision that was backed by the government at the time. United's trip to South America didn't help, but it was long before new Wembley was finally completed.

The FA have been ripping off English fans for years at Wembley and so not much has changed in that respect, apart from the fact that it is now much more expensive for supporters to follow their clubs in the FA Cup.

It's also true to state that at the beginning of every new season the FA Cup is very much number three on the priority lists of manager's like Ferguson, Ancelotti and Wenger. Vying to win the League title and the Champions League are the top two priorities.

The FA Cup has lost some of its appeal, and the noses in the trough FA have only themselves to blame.

2 comments:

  1. I agree completely James. Wembley was reserved for the finals themselves and a trip to wembley was a big deal. Thats no longer the case. It's things like this that have killed the magic of the FA Cup.
    RoM has a good article up at the moment about the 2000 FA Cup and why United pulled out that year.

    Its amazing how Wembley could cost 6 or 7 times more than the Millennium Stadium. Its been a total farce since day one and at this rate how long before the FA Cup goes the way of the League cup? They may like to claim its still the worlds best domestic cup competition. It wont be long before the FA have killed that reputation.

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  2. Dave,

    I had a brief look at the RoM article and so yes, I know all about that.

    As regards the FA Cup losing it's appeal, as I've already stated it is down to several factors.

    The FA haven't helped with the decision to play those semis at Wembley but we all know why that happened.

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