THE mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool have asked the Football Association (FA) to move next month’s FA Cup semifinal between Manchester City and Liverpool to be moved from Wembley due to a lack of train services to London that weekend.
City and Liverpool will meet over the Easter weekend but the mayors said the match would be difficult for fans to attend as engineering work scheduled for April 16-17 means there will be no direct trains to London from Manchester and Merseyside.
“This leaves tens of thousands of fans from all over our region in an unfair position, as supporters’ groups from both clubs have made clear today,” Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram said in a joint letter to the FA Chair Debbie Hewitt.
“Without quick, direct trains, many people will be left with no option but to drive, fly, make overly complex rail journeys or book overnight accommodation.
“We believe the most obvious solution is to move this game to a more accessible stadium and offer to work constructively with you to make that happen,” added the letter sent on Tuesday.
The mayors added that rising fuel prices would burden fans with excessive costs while there were also “significant logistical and safety considerations” with thousands of fans converging on the M6 motorway.
“More than 64,000 traveling supporters will be forced on to the roads, which will already be overburdened with bank holiday traffic,” supporters groups for both clubs said in a joint statement.
“For the other semi between (London clubs) Chelsea and Crystal Palace, Wembley makes sense. For Liverpool and City, it makes no sense.
“City and Liverpool are less than 40 miles apart and there are plenty of grounds big enough far closer than Wembley to stage such a prestigious game.”
The FA had earlier said in a statement released to British media that it would meet Liverpool and City to discuss match arrangements and announce further details in due course.
“We are also continuing to work with both Network Rail and National Express to find a solution so that supporters of both teams are able to travel to and from the fixture, with as minimal disruption as possible,” the FA said. — Reuters