Ever since Liverpool FC and Manchester City were drawn to play each other in the FA Cup semi-final, the issue of the logistical nightmare that both sets of fans are set to face in order to make the trip down to Wembley has been flagged. Due to engineering work that is scheduled to take place across a number of locations, there will not be any trains running into London Euston from April 15 to 18. Services from both cities will be limited. Liverpool fans will start from Liverpool Lime Street, ending at Rugby, while trains from Manchester Piccadilly will begin and end at Milton Keynes Central and run via Stoke-on-Trent.
According to a report by Paul Gorst of the ECHO, the FA have had knowledge of the potential travel disruptions since 2019.
Rail industry sources say the FA were first alerted to the planned work back in November 2019 before the governing body received a written request in September last year to consider changing the venue of the game.
The FA have so far refused to open talks about rearranging the game for another neutral venue in the north west, despite calls from both sets of fans to consider an alteration that would be a huge boost to a large portion of what is expected to be around 70,000 fans.
In response, Liverpool FC supporter group Spirit of Shankly issued a joint statement together with Man City supporter group 1894.
Wembley Semi-Final Travel Chaos. Zero consideration has been given to fans travelling to our FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City. #ChangeTheVenue— Spirit of Shankly (@spiritofshankly) March 21, 2022
Link: https://t.co/bOUufdtANb@WeAre1894 @LFC @ManCity @EmiratesFACup @wembleystadium pic.twitter.com/1XJ6OzMHmA
Perhaps one line from that statement sums it up best:
“Yet rather than basking in the anticipation of the match, to be played on Saturday 16 / Sunday 17 April, it was, for all involved, not a case of “We’re on our way to Wembley” but “How will we get to Wembley?”
The Mayors of both Liverpool and Manchester also put out a joint statement:
⚽ It's been said a lot lately that football without fans is nothing.— Steve Rotheram (@MetroMayorSteve) March 22, 2022
Rail chaos means many fans face being unable to get to the FA cup semi final. That cannot be allowed to happen. @AndyBurnhamGM and I want action to make sure it doesn't.
❌Slogans without actions are nothing. pic.twitter.com/tzTiqvfsae
The pressure has been put on the FA, although it’s pretty sad that it had to come to this. The easy and logical thing to do would have been to take some initiative and put in place some contingency plans in advance. Instead, it seems like the FA only responds if enough blame is heaped upon their shoulders. What a shame that the euphoria of making a FA Cup semi-final has to be sullied like this.