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FA Cup Semi Finals Should Not Be Played At Wembley


Its that time of the year again when major sporting events signify the season of spring. The Masters, The Grand National and FA Cup Semi Finals. Growing up as a kid this was one of my highlights of the football season (at a time where there wasn’t as many games on TV as there is now) – it was often the two games that offered the highest levels of excitement and controversy in a season.

But in recent years as with the demise of the famous cup competition so we have seen this day become just another fixture.  Now I know people can blame the ‘big four’ and the Champions and Premier League gravy trains and there are some truths there, but another possibility which has been overlooked is the venue of the semi finals: Wembley itself.

I am a huge fan of the new Wembley, but the beauty of the FA Cup is its tradition and romance and how unique it is from other countries domestic cup competitions in the world. Playing the semi finals at Wembley takes the gloss and magesty away from the show piece event of the final itself. Every kid’s childhood dream is to play and score a winning goal at Wembley, in a cup final not a semi.

 In England there are more than enough high quality stadia that could have staged this weekend’s semi finals including the more commonly used Old Trafford, Villa Park, Emirates Stadium, St. James Park and City of Manchester Stadium – the list is endless. A view that is shared by Harry Redknapp, Michael Ballack and David Moyes that Wembley should be kept for the final.

The FA mentioned it has been part of the business model to repay the cost of building the stadium, but what about the cost to the fans? Two trips to Wembley in a season for the same competition is expensive, I have heard of tickets at the face value of £150.  Classic semi finals have always been the matches away from Wembley, and in recent seasons they have been a dull, drab affair between teams playing on a heavily cut-up pitch and not expressing the true one-off special occasion atomsphere the semi final offers – the prize being a trip to Wembley, shouldn’t that be the greatest motivation? To Earn to the right to play in a Final of the greatest domestic cup competition in the world, in the most famous stadium, that magic is created by saving Wembley for the final only. The FA need to look at many ways to re-kindle the romance of the FA Cup with fans and the media, this would be a very good starting point.

 To end on a positive here are a few links to some classic FA Cup Semi Finals over the last 20 years (in no particular order).

 1. Crystal Palace 4 – 3 Liverpool, Villa Park, 1990

2. Arsenal 1 – 2 Manchester United, Villa Park, 1999

3. Manchester United 3 – 3 Oldham,  Maine Road, 1990

4. Chesterfield 3-3 Middlesbrough, Old Trafford, 1997

 5. Coventry City 3 – 2 Leeds United 2, Hillsborough, 1987

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  1. Eladio

    April 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Actually, though, winning the FA Cup semi-final guarantees you a spot in Europe next year. (Unless you’re Pompey and forget to submit the paperwork, of course.) So I’d say that the semi-finals do have a lot riding on them, and having them at Wemberly (if the stupid pitch wasn’t shite) isn’t a bad idea.

  2. Marshall Norbal

    April 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm


    a Tottenham fan I guess. If I had a top ten then it would have been in. In my opinion it was a classic goal from Gascoigne, but wasn’t a classic match

  3. Lyle

    April 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I disagree. They need to pay for the stadium, which means they need games in the stadium. Having the semi-finals there makes total sense especially since the games have to be played at a neutral ground anyway.

  4. Kevin

    April 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I take offense to your list.

  5. Rob McCluskey

    April 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    typical English FA – the fan comes last – money comes first

    This stupid idea not only kills the excitement to some degree of getting to Wembley, which should be a one off, but it also costs a lot of fans a lot of money whereas for others it can just be around the corner. Should always be played at a neutral venue nearer the centre of England, it doesn’t matter that Wembely is the biggest stadium, Old Trafford, Hillsborough and Villa Park are all great stadiums where these games should be played. As far as i’m concerned Wembely is a bit redundant as an English person, I think most people enjoyed it when the national team played at different stadiums across the country, giving everyone a chance to see their national team.

    Like I said, the fans thoughts and feelings aren’t considered and the majority (if not all of them) don’t want semi finals at Wembley. It’s the same with the current annnoyance of Newcastle fans, as Sky and the football league agreed to move their match against Plymouth (the longest away day in the football league) to a late kick off on a Monday night, meaning people need to struggle to get down there and attempt to find two days off work on short notice.

    Money is corrupting English football.

    • Lyle

      April 10, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      The bottom line is certainly more important than several thousands fans feelings or desires not to miss work for a Monday night game. Boo hoo, boo hoo I say.

    • Devils Advocate

      April 11, 2010 at 6:00 am

      Hi Rob..not sure where you’re located geographically but I agree with the comments you made. As you might be aware, rebuilding “new” Wembley on the site of the original made no sense financially and whilst the stadium is magnificent, it would have been much better (for the fans) if it had been built on cheaper land with far better communication/accommodation links.

      Trouble is, as is often the case in prestigeous contracts, political influences rule.

      • Rob McCluskey

        April 11, 2010 at 7:23 am

        I’m from Newcastle, and it was nice to see the national team play up in the north east a few times and change from stadium to stadium

        I wouldn’t mind if there is a national stadium though, its just everything about this stadium seems to be a bit of a disaster, the fact they sold those ten or fifteen year seats or whatever and people dont even bother to turn up in them which makes it look like there is loads of empty seats is a joke

        Wembely was the old wembley – not this one and you’re right, they should of built it somewhere else

  6. Evan

    April 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Playing at Wembley for a semi final can feel like almost winning the cup for some team. It would take away some of the importance of the semi finals in my opinion.

    • Devils Advocate

      April 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

      “The FA mentioned it has been part of the business model to repay the cost of building the stadium…”

      This is, of course the crux of the matter. The rebuilding of Wembley as we all know came in way over budget so it is understandable the FA are looking to recoup costs sooner than later. In addition, the general economic climate means we can ill-afford to reserve the stadium for footballing finals solely.

      HavIng said that, I have to agree that playing semi-finals at Wembley detracts from experience of the “Final” appearance. I also believe that the costs of 2 trips to London can be prohibitive as said above. It is regrettable that the fans lose out yet again.

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