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Who Deserves The FA Cup Final Tickets?

Vital Manchester City received the following from Blues fan Nicholas Melia.

On April 16th, I witnessed the greatest achievement by Manchester City during my life time. As I bounced down the steps from the West Upper Stand of Wembley, chanting City songs as loud as I could, my dad turned to me and said 'There is no better feeling than that!' and that just about summed it all up for me.

City had reached the FA Cup final, knocking Manchester United out in the semis. It's what I've spent eight seasons as a season ticket holder and many more without, patiently waiting for. So can you imagine my utter disappointment when I saw the reduced allocation the Football Association had put in place ready for the final?

If City sold out their 35,000 tickets for the semi, why cut the allocation to 25,000 for the final? That means 11,000 of City's 36,000 season-ticket holders will be forced to watch their club's first cup final for 30 years on television or join a scramble for tickets on the black market.

Before the FA Cup final was moved back to the new Wembley it was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. That stadium has a capacity of 74,500, and despite an overall increase of 15,500 to the capacity at Wembley, there is only an increase of 1,500 tickets per team.

This means there are 50,000 football fans expected to be there, and the other 40,000 is distributed between the 'Club Wembley', the football family and grass roots volunteers. So it begs the question, who deserves the tickets? The fans or the money men?

Let's face it, without the investments of Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the chances of City being in the final are very slim to non existent. Along with other investments from companies such as Etihad, Umbro and many more, City have had the resources to challenge the best teams in England and surely soon will be competing against the best in Europe. When you consider the potential cost of the starting eleven in the cup final and compare it to the prize money of 1.8m for winning the competition, surely, the investors deserve whatever they want.

Another argument could be that the Football Association should take into consideration the two finalist and how many season ticket holders the two teams have. Should it be the case that every season ticket holder should have the right to refuse one ticket each? This would also help stamp out the resale of tickets which ultimately leads to fans paying way over the face value of a ticket in order to get a piece of the atmosphere.

There are also a large proportion of tickets allocated to the FA for corporate viewers. After all, this is the organisation that represent...

'...the world's oldest and most famous domestic knockout competition.'
(Motson, 2005, p.34)

The FA is made up of many different sources that help maintain the English game as arguably the best domestic football league in the world. But should they demand as many corporate tickets as they actually get? The cup final is more than just another game. It's a once in a life time experience. A chance for a whole new generation to witness a life changing event like the one I witnessed in the Division 2 Play-Off Final all those years ago. So surely the crowd should be made up purely of fans from either side, and should not be used as a chance to offer 'freebies' to people who may or may not attend the game, and if they do, have no real concern for the final outcome.

Bill Shankly once recalled...

'I had Cup inal tickets in my hand and as we were going up Wembley Way I went to the front of the bus, opened the door and handed them to two Liverpool supporters. I said: 'Pay me next season.' But I didn't want paying. Money doesn't come into it with me. Not at all. I was at Wembley for them. I've seen boys sitting in tee-shirts soaking wet at FA Cup games drinking Oxo. They might not do that for League games. But the FA Cup is another story. Everyone wants a Cup final ticket.'
(Keith, 2001, p.57)

I believe what Shankly said in this quote is something that any City fan, young or old, can relate to. The fans that have had to watch their team get played off the park by Stockport County and the ones that were packed into Maine Road during that thunder storm which ultimately resulted in the tie between Ipswich being abandoned.

So when it comes to who deserves the tickets, surely the soaking wet, mentally exhausted fan who has had to endure the many bad times week after week throughout their life deserves it more than anyone. Certainly, when you consider who means more to a club, the money men or the fans, the fans must surely come out on top. For example, consider Portsmouth being in the cup final last year. Having seen their club destroyed by poor decisions from the board, which ultimately saw them relegated, the fans deserved to attend the final more than anyone. Yet the allocations were still the same.

Or maybe these are the fans the FA is trying to remove from the game?

Each season we see the FA raise ticket prices well beyond that affordable to the average man to take his family to a game at Wembley. This year alone has seen a record high ticket price of 115 per seat. Along with the price of parking, programmes, and travel costs, even if the ticket allocation was raised, what sort of audience would they be aiming at? Or is it the fact that ticket prices are so high in order to fund the 'freebies' given out to corporate viewers and celebrities.

Which leads to a more serious question - if the FA succeed in making football an upper class sport viewed only by the rich and famous, does this spell the beginning of the end of the working man's beautiful game?

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The journalist

Writer: Nicholas Melia Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday May 2 2011

Time: 9:07PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
In 1969 City got 16,000 tickets out of 100,000 so this is not a new problem. I have a brother in law who has gone to every cup final for many years using tickets allocated to an ex-England international. Too many tickets go to the hangers on in the FA world, to the league and club officials throughout football, referees associations etc etc.
Report Abuse
02/05/2011 22:33:00

My niece and her friend who only started watching City last season have got tickets through contacts. My dad and 2 sisters who have watched for many years are still hoping the points needed get reduced far enough. I first went with my dad in 1962 and he's 80 this year. This is annual problem which won't go away As you say the hangers on need to be cut out. I remember in 1976 getting mine from a London solicitor who did some legal work for Leicester City. Another time I got them from a Nottm Forestplaer and the ticket had "Bolton Schools FA" stamped on the back and that came via an estate agent in Hull! You laugh when you get them but not when you are the unlucky one
Report Abuse
03/05/2011 09:11:00

BBC and a BBQ for me unfortunately...
Report Abuse
03/05/2011 21:33:00

I wish the game was on the BBC but sadly its not. Its ITV, ESPN and adverts ta-boot.
Report Abuse
03/05/2011 21:37:00

Apologies, already resigned to no ticket and hadn't checked the TV planner. Potato head Chiles in full HD hopefully then, although can't then stomach a BBQ if so...
Report Abuse
03/05/2011 21:48:00

Quite an easy question. Fans that deserve tickets are the ones with the season tickets or the ones who attempt to watch them week in week out. Then there comes the people who watch man city at home a few times but watched every f.a cup game possible. I think the ones who don't attempt to go down to the ground but want cup final tickets should have whats left over, IF there is any left over.
Report Abuse
04/05/2011 12:35:00

P.Avfc - I understand where your coming from, but at City, bearing in mind that you get 190 points for having a season ticket, Ive had one for 8years and been to quite a few away & cup games and have 2800 points, so I'm nowhere near having enough points. So where do I stand? Surely I deserve a ticket over someone from Club Wembley who has paid 10k for 10 years worth of Wembley tickets to either watch teams they don't care about just because they can afford to or to sell their tickets at sky high prices...
Report Abuse
05/05/2011 00:59:00

Week In Week Outers should get top priority imho. I'll be watching on France 4 with the posse and a direct link up to the VMC Match Day Thread!!!
Johnny Baguette
Report Abuse
06/05/2011 11:44:00


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