Paul Parker

Wembley semis killing Cup

Paul Parker

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Yet again we have the ridiculous situation of two FA Cup semi-finals being played at Wembley this weekend.

I know why the FA made its decision a couple of years ago to stage all last-four clashes at the national stadium; I just don't agree with it.

Playing a final at Wembley is what the FA Cup is supposed to be all about. Isn't it every boy's dream to lead out their team at the famous stadium in the final? I doubt a semi-final appearance features in many young lads' dreams.

Using the stadium at that stage of the competition only serves to devalue the achievement of actually reaching the final. Playing there is supposed to be a reward for reaching the final - for both players and fans - not for winning a last-eight tie.

But the sad truth is that these days football is motivated by money and the massive cost of the new Wembley has dictated that Wembley needs to be used as often as possible in order to recoup as much of the £575 million spent on building it.

It seems that real football fans have once again been forgotten by the suits that run the game.

And it seems even more ridiculous that fans of Everton and Manchester United have to travel all the way down to London to watch Sunday's game. Far better to have played the game at Hillsbrough, Villa Park or another ground a little closer to the north-west.

The costs incurred by these fans will be astronomical - and they may have to do it all again in a few weeks if their team actually reaches the final.

The FA have failed to show any common sense or goodwill to the fans and it is a shame to see them plump for the option that will see them make the most money.

Few players would argue with the fans point of view either. I've played a semi at Wembley myself - it's not the same feeling at all and it does take a little gloss off reaching the final.

But Everton could be set to benefit from playing there.

At the moment, Manchester United need a lift. Badly.

Wednesday night's win at Porto was obviously a great result, but they had to work very hard for it and would probably be happy to get a nice break before the next game.

Playing a semi-final at Wembley - with the long trip down to London, the large, energy-sapping pitch and a potentially subdued crowd - will not provide them with that.

A lot of real fans will have been unable to make the long trip and those that are there are too far set back to create a decent atmosphere.

And that is a shame, for both the players and the tournament itself.

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