The Turf Weekly: FA Cup Wembley Semi-final?
Sunderland sadly narrowly missed out on another trip to Wembley on Sunday when they lost 3-0 to Hull in the FA Cup quarter-final. The four remaining teams (Hull vs Sheffield United and Wigan vs Arsenal) now go to Wembley with the winners of those clashes meeting again at Wembley in the final. This week we ask does having the semi-finals at Wembley take away the significance of the final being held there?
Daniel Rodenby @DanRodenby
Being a Wigan supporter obviously we won the FA Cup last year, and played our semi-final at Wembley against Millwall. Although it was a brilliant day, it didn’t feel right to be celebrating at Wembley then not getting a cup for it, and then going back for the final 4 weeks later is weird. In my opinion, semi-finals should be home and away legs like the play-offs. It gives home fans a chance to see their team and it increases the significance of reaching the final. Watching your team at Wembley in a cup final is brilliant as Sunderland fans can vouch for!
Craig Johns @craig_johns
I can’t help but feel that having the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley takes away, somewhat, from the significance of having the final at Wembley. Playing at Wembley in the cup should be the ultimate for both player and fan and I feel having the semi-final there is too early a stage because victory just means you’re in the final which is again at Wembley rather than at Wembley. I appreciate that for littler teams getting to a semi-final is an incredible feat and therefore it is special to them to get the chance to go to Wembley allowing more teams that opportunity. But think of the winner, you’re in the final which is great but there’s nothing special or unique about it because you’ve already played at Wembley. I feel there are two alternatives that would be better and would thus mean that only the final was at Wembley resulting in a bigger monumental moment. Firstly, the FA Cup could use alternative neutral stadiums for the semis. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff hosted the final six times while the new Wembley stadium was being built and would therefore have the significance to host neutral semi-finals. Old Trafford, likewise, has the size and stature to host such an event, as it did in 2004 when Sunderland played their semi-final there against Millwall (they were beaten 1-0). Alternatively, the FA Cup could take a leaf out of the books of semi-finals for both the play-offs and the Capital One Cup in which the semis are contested over two legs. This gives both clubs’ fans the chance to be present at their own ground and can also lead to very exciting ties as was showcased this season in Capital One Cup semi between Manchester United and Sunderland. Personally I feel either of these options would add better value and significance to the final then being staged at Wembley.
Both of our panelists this week are in agreement that the semi-finals should have an alternative to Wembley and both mentioned the possibility of a two-legged tie. Could this work? Would you prefer this option? Would it make special occasions like these more accessible for more fans?
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