Just in case Manchester United fans thought they might have a slim chance of getting the last train home on April 21, should their FA Cup semi-final go to penalties, the FA confirmed VAR will be in use.
They will be lucky to make the first rattler out of Euston on Sunday morning.
It is hardly an unusual scenario. The FA has long insisted Wembley is a public transport venue, only to stage matches at times when supporters from anywhere north of Watford struggle to catch a train out of town.
In common with the Premier League, the FA’s lucrative TV deal surrenders any meaningful sway on scheduling, and the optimum slot for United in a big match is early Saturday evening.
If the match away at Spurs finishes in regulation time, fans will make the nine o’clock back to Manchester.
But if you don’t want to take a gamble, it is a hotel, or that lovely car journey to Wembley, where the fee for the official car park is £30.
Rooms in well-known budget hotels around Euston are coming in at £200 for the night of April 21.
Restrictions on broadcasting live Saturday football mean the semi-final on that day has to kick-off at lunchtime or at tea-time.
Lunchtime would have been fine for United fans — there are 10 trains out of Manchester that would have got them there in plenty of time and umpteen coming back — but tea-time is prime-time.
In a question-and-answer session on the FA’s website, Andy Ambler, Director of Professional Game Relations, said they have “people employed specifically to liaise with transport companies”.
But short of begging Virgin Trains to lay on some old-style football specials, there is little they can do. Ambler also addressed other issues surrounding the FA Cup semi-finals.
One of the key reasons for playing semis at Wembley is “it gives added impetus to the quarter-finals”. As if quarter-finals need “added impetus”. And anyway, there was not much impetus in the quarter-final I was at, where swathes of empty seats scarred Old Trafford.
The semis are at Wembley to make money. Simple.
Ambler also dismissed the complaints that Tottenham have an advantage because they have been playing at Wembley all season.
“It is important to remember that Wembley is not the permanent home of Tottenham, just their temporary home for the 2017-18 season.”
I rented a house for a year before buying a place in the town of my current residence. It was still my home. Ah, but Spurs will have the “away” dressing-room. That’s OK, then.
Then, there are the ticket prices. Category A up £20 to £80, Category B up £15 to £65, Category C up £5 to £45.
Category D tickets are unchanged at £30… both of them.
“If you’re buying a ticket for the semi-final or the final, you are directly investing in the future of the game in this country,” declared Ambler.
So to all those die-hard fans, who cannot afford the £80 for a ticket, the £200 for a hotel and the £30 for a car parking place, it is not all that bad.
If you are not capable of “directly investing in the future of the game in this country”, you are not welcome.
Staging semi-finals at Wembley may be just about palatable — pricing them beyond the less fortunate fans is not.
The FA should be embarrassed.
But, as long as the stadium is packed with day-trippers, corporates and supporters with enough disposable cash, they won’t be.
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