Everton manager David Moyes hits out over ‘unfair’ kick-off times ahead of FA Cup semi-finals
David Moyes, the Everton manager, has warned the footballing authorities to care more for fans over “unfair” kick-off times.
Followers of Everton and Liverpool face a transport nightmare to reach Wembley in time for their FA Cup semi-final at 12.30pm on Saturday.
However, it is not only the kick-off times (with Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur at 6pm on Sunday) stirring up ill feeling.
Although Liverpool and Everton have sold out their allocations, tickets were available on Thursday from agencies at substantial markups and £40 special delivery fees in some cases.
A face-value £30 ticket behind the goal in the Everton end was on offer for £350. As expected, space in the Club Wembley section was up for sale with seats for £425. Some £50 face-value tickets in the Spurs end for Sunday’s semi-final are being traded for £300. Plenty of seats were on offer in the Club Wembley areas for Sunday.
It is the kick-off times that have angered many on Merseyside. A mixture of television demands and police concerns means that the Football Association decided on Saturday’s lunchtime slot for Liverpool versus Everton.
Those fans driving south on the M6 will pass within 10 miles of Old Trafford and one mile of Villa Park, two traditional semi-final venues.
The situation has been complicated by the FA’s need to play the Cup semis at Wembley to help pay for the huge debts brought on by the £757 million reconstruction.
The FA is under a financial imperative to milk as much revenue as it can from Wembley but more thought should have been given to supporters, either with a 3pm kick-off or some form of reduced price on the ticket to acknowledge the cost required to get to Wembley.
The FA has a deal with National Express but even the cheapest return was £43, leaving Liverpool at 5am for the four-hour journey.
“I feel for the supporters,’’ said Moyes. “Of course, we will get a full house at Wembley but it’s a difficult time for supporters. You are making it as really awkward as you can to get there.
“To get to London for 12.30 on a Saturday isn’t an easy thing, without maybe going and staying overnight or getting away really early in the morning. That has been a little bit unfair on both clubs from up here.”
Moyes understood the danger that fans could eventually say enough is enough, particularly in a recession.
“I would have thought there might have been some supporters who said: ‘Maybe I won’t make the trip, maybe I will wait, because the Grand National is on in the city, I might go to that instead of making the trip’.
“We have to watch that we are not making football too awkward for the supporter who has to go to his job.”
Moyes added that he found the 6pm kick-off for Chelsea versus Spurs “as not a normal kick-off time in this country”.