Andy Burnham has joined a fellow Northern mayor in calling for the FA Cup semi-final to be moved from Wembley Stadium.
The game between Manchester City and Liverpool is scheduled to take place on the weekend of 16 and 17 April, but planned engineering works mean that no trains are running from either city to or from London from 15-18 April, so Mr Burnham and Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, have written to the Football Association (FA) to ask for the match to be moved to a more “accessible venue”.
In a joint letter to the FA, which was shared to Twitter this week, Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram said: “Without quick, direct trains, many people will be left with no option but to drive, fly, make overly complex rail journeys or book overnight accommodation.
“When you factor in the rising costs of fuel, it is clear that supporters of both clubs attending this game will face excessive cost and inconvenience – and that is before any environmental impact is considered.
“There are also significant logistical and safety considerations. With thousands of fans making the long journey south, there will be huge numbers converging on the M6, which is likely to be stretched to capacity by bank holiday traffic.
“A single accident would risk the entire motorway being brought to a standstill and fans missing the kick-off.”
The pair said they want the match to be moved to a venue in the north.
In the letter, the mayors explained that they understood the engineering works that are due to take place had “been scheduled since 2019” and that the FA was “explicably made aware of them last autumn”.
“Over the last year, we have heard the slogan ‘football without fans is nothing’ many times,” they continued.
“If this decision is left to stand, and people are either priced out of this game or unable to attend for other reasons, those words will be meaningless to many [so] we believe the most obvious solution is to move the game to a more accessible stadium.”
They have offered to “work constructively” with the FA to make it happen.
Even before Mr Burnham and Mr Rotherham called for the semi-final match to be moved, and before the two playing teams were decided, the FA said it was liaising with both clubs and working with Network Rail and National Express to find a solution “so that supporters of both teams are able to travel to and from the fixture with as minimal disruption as possible”.
The FA is yet to respond to the letter from the mayors, and has not made any announcements regarding the event venue.
Featured Image – Dolapo Ayoade (via Unsplash)