I remember growing up. FA Cup final day was magical. Always the end of the domestic season. There was hours of coverage. Cameras on the coaches. Saturday 3pm kick off. On both channels. We watched on the BBC. No adverts!
This year, there is a 5.15pm kick off. To maximise the viewing figure, say the FA. But there are other premiership fixtures on, and the last train back to Wigan is 8.30pm and Manchester is 9pm. A tight timetable if there is extra time or, as for both semi-finals, delays on the tube.
I don't want future FA cup finals to face this problem. The FA and the TV rights people need to sort this out. My suggestion, which I have put in a parliamentary motion today, is that there is an exclusive day for the FA Cup final, with no other fixture on that day. That would maximise viewing figures, keep the FA cup special and might even allow fans to get home on Saturday night.
The motion reads;
That this House regrets the decision to hold the FA cup final at 5.15 pm on 11th May; notes that this decision will create real problems for the fans of Manchester City and Wigan who need to return home by train, with the last departure for Wigan leaving Euston at 8.31pm and the last train for Manchester Piccadilly leaving Euston at 9pm; recognises that the decision to delay the kick-off until 5.15pm is intended to maximise the television audience and to allow fans of other clubs to watch their own team without missing out on watching the final or to avoid league attendances being adversely affected by the FA cup ; recognises that lessons need to be learnt for the future and urges the football authorities and television to work together to ensure that in future years the FA cup final is held on Saturday at 3pm, ideally the week after the last round of league matches when Wembley match scheduling allows or as a standalone fixture on a Saturday with the full league programme moved to the Sunday to avoid clashing with league fixtures.