DAVID PYE: Wembley is no place for the FA Cup semi-finals
11:00pm Tuesday 12th March 2013 in Sport
THE FA Cup is getting to the business end now and while we are still waiting to see how the semi finals line up, it could end up being a case of North West domination.
Not disregarding Chelsea and Millwall, who could both make it through with replay wins, there is every chance the M6 motorway will be a no-go area for drivers over the weekend of April 13-14.
It again raises the issue for me of why the Football Association is an immovable object when it comes to the venue of the last-four ties.
Just like 2011 when Wanderers were involved, we could have a scenario when fans from four teams in the north are trekking down to the capital and spending untold amounts when it would make more sense, particularly in these days of austerity, to save them the expense.
Old Trafford could easily accommodate the fans of Millwall, Blackburn and Wigan for one tie and the other could be at Anfield or Goodison Park.
I appreciate the argument that Wembley semi finals mean more tickets for both sides and allows more to attend, which is beneficial to clubs like the two Manchester sides with their big followings.
It also means more Wiganers have the chance to witness their club’s first ever semi-final.
But I am sure many of those would be happy to cut costs and have a shorter journey.
It is unlikely to change with the FA committed to having the semi finals at Wembley for the foreseeable future.
But aside from the logistics and cost, which could run into hundreds of pounds for families travelling to enjoy the day together, the traditionalist in me remains uncomfortable with the semis being at Wembley.
As a kid growing up, FA Cup final day was a big event as one of the few live games on television and every fan wanted to be the lucky ones on Wembley Way waiting for their team’s bus to arrive.
Nowadays, the chance to visit the national stadium comes one round sooner and I think that devalues the famous old competition.
It is almost as if the two losing semi-finalists now have the consolation prize of having their big day out regardless of making the final – not like days gone by when a defeat in the last four could be heartbreaking for players and fans alike.
Que sera sera, I suppose.