Poll finds 68% of fans want FA Cup semi-finals moved from Wembley

Semi-finals have been played at Wembley since the 2007-08 season.
Poll finds 68% of fans want FA Cup semi-finals moved from Wembley

By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter

More than two-thirds of football fans in England and Wales support the idea of moving future FA Cup semi-finals to neutral venues outside London.

An Ipsos poll found 68 per cent supported taking the matches away from Wembley, where they have been played since the 2007-08 season.

Prior to that, other club venues including Villa Park and Old Trafford regularly hosted last-four matches.

Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has said it would have made sense to switch their semi-final against Manchester City to a venue outside London
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has said it would have made sense to switch their semi-final against Manchester City to a venue outside London (Peter Byrne/PA)

The Football Association faced criticism for its decision to stick with Wembley for the clash between Liverpool and Manchester City on Saturday despite West Coast Mainline train services being down over the Easter weekend due to engineering works.

Reds skipper Jordan Henderson said he felt it would have made sense to move the match to an alternative neutral venue, and a new Ipsos poll clearly demonstrates support for future semi-finals to be moved away from the national stadium.

Ipsos interviewed 831 football fans in England or Wales as part of a representative survey of 2,051 adults aged 16-75 in Great Britain.

Support for moving the matches to neutral venues outside London was especially strong in the 55 to 75 age group – where 74 per cent were in favour. That dropped to 63 per cent in the under-35s.

Seven in 10 fans in London supported the move, even though semi-finals are currently played at Wembley.

Eleven per cent opposed moving the semis to neutral venues outside London, one in five (19 per cent) neither supported nor opposed a move and two per cent said they did not know.

Keiran Pedley, research director at Ipsos, said: “There is clear support amongst football fans in England and Wales for future FA Cup semi-finals being held at neutral venues outside London.

“It is interesting that support is strongest amongst older fans, which may reflect the memory some have of this happening in the past. Of course, how likely this is to ever happen in the future is another matter entirely.”

The FA’s decision to switch semi-finals to Wembley was primarily a financial one, to help recoup some of the cost of the redevelopment of the national stadium.

The governing body has pledged to lay on 100 buses from Anfield and the Etihad Stadium and back to take 5,000 Liverpool and City fans to the match, and advised supporters should avoid travelling by train from the north-west wherever possible.

The FA has been approached for a response to the poll.

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