Tuesday, April 16, 2013

FA stick with 5.15pm Cup final kick-off... despite Virgin warning fans may be stranded

The Football Association took the decision to hold this season’s FA Cup final at 5.15pm even though train operators warned them they would not be able to get Manchester City and Wigan Athletic fans back to the North West after the game.

Supporters of both clubs are already upset that a late afternoon kick off on May 11 has left them facing a long trip to Wembley and back by road or an expensive hotel bill after it emerged Virgin trains do not operate Saturday night services to Wigan and Manchester later than 8.30pm and 9pm respectively.

They will now be incensed even more, though, by news that Virgin told the FA exactly what the situation would be.

The last direct service to Wigan leaves London Euston at 8.31pm, while there are only two services back to Manchester Piccadilly after 8pm (8.20pm and 9pm).

A statement from the train company, released today following this morning’s announcement that the showpiece would be staged at tea-time for the second consecutive year, read: ‘We have had a direct dialogue with both the FA and Wembley Stadium that if team(s) from the North West were to be involved in the FA Cup final at Wembley then a 5.15 kick off would mean supporters would be unable to return to the North West that evening.

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