by Noel Draper

Thank you Mr Football Association.

Over the last few months I have been moaning about you and your decisions, decisions that have usually nothing to do with the supporters and everything to do with greed and paying off the massive white lump without a trunk that is Wembley, but it seems I was wrong. Sometimes you do listen.

When the media campaigned to get Sir Harry of Sandbanks the England job it was done on the back of something called “the people’s choice”. Everywhere the supporter turned a lovely jowled image greeted them answering the usual pathetic questions whilst sitting in a car at some sort of entrance to a complex of some description. This conveyed the image of a coach. A good coach who had turned a bottom 3 side into a top 4 side in the space of a season.  A coach who could turn England around. A coach for the people.

The trouble is, the people weren’t paying much attention, as they had already decided that dear old Harry was in fact a bumbling idiot who talked a good game but left the actual coaching side of the game to his very well appointed assistants. You saw through all of this as well Mr Football Association, didn’t you? You saw through the flim, you saw through the flam, you then listened to what the real fans were saying on social media sites and employed a real life coach. For that I, and most of the England supporters, thank you.

I don’t really mean to say thank you as I have now delved deeper into this and have realised that there could have been another motive for not employing dear old ‘arry. That motive? Yup, it’s money. Again. You didn’t listen to the fans did you? It was all about Redknapp’s contract and the money it would take to free him from it. I should have guessed. It’s the same old story once again.

You did it with the FA Cup semi final, making thousands of Liverpudlians travel down to London for a 12.30 kick off just to satisfy the television companies. Don’t worry about the fans who had to get up in the middle of the night just to set foot in your giant cash cow. Don’t worry that Old Trafford could have hosted the event with ease allowing the fans an easier and cheaper journey. Oh, you didn’t.

Then we get to the F.A Cup Final itself. When the four Semi Final teams were decided you started to have discussions with travel companies like Virgin trains about arrangements because at least one team would be coming from the North West. Good for you, but what did you do when the train companies told you that they had engineering works planned and a disrupted service would be in operation? Did you schedule the game for a sensible and historic time, say 3pm, thus giving the northern traveller time to return home or did you only listen to the television people and stick it on at 5:15? Oh. Well done.

While we are on the subject of the Cup Final why was the allocation to the supporters only set at 25,000 each? Seeing as Wembley holds 90,000 that means that nearly half of the tickets didn’t go to fans of the clubs involved but went to sponsors, the FA family, whatever that is, and guests. You also managed to charge the supporters between £45 and £115 for the privilege with nearly half of them going for £85. This is, of course, madness, and will end in tears.

Time and time again you pay no attention to the one set of people that this game is aimed at. The paying public. The fans. The supporters. Without them the game you run will wither and die. Be very careful Mr Football Association because one day the average fan, the bloke on the street, the supporter, will get a bit fed up with the prices, the times, the dates and the bare faced lies and not bother turning up. Can you imagine what a half filled Wembley will look like to your lovely television audiences? Will companies be quick to chuck a buck at you if no-one bothers watching? Of course they won’t.

The ball is in your court Mr Football Association. Take heed. Take action. Lower prices, make times more fan friendly, allocate more tickets and above all remove that American beer company as your main sponsor because that sends out the worst message of all.