Chelsea plead with FA not to sink Cup hopes with Titanic showing
Published 22:30 02/04/12 By Martin Lipton
Chelsea will this week urge the FA to put kids and the safety of fans FIRST - and change their Wembley semi-final kick-off against Spurs.
The Stamford Bridge club feel the 6pm start time on Sunday April 15, which MirrorFootball revealed was because broadcaster ITV want to lock viewers in to the final episode of “Titanic”, is a recipe for problems.
While manager Roberto Di Matteo has complained about the late scheduling of the game just three days before a potential Champions League semi-final first leg clash with Barcelona, Chelsea will argue the FA should switch the kick-off back at least five hours for more important reasons.
The late start raises the prospect of many of the 80,000-plus fans attending the game between the two fierce London rivals having taken advantage of all day drinking laws.
With the majority of schools in the capital and surrounding areas reopening their gates the following morning, the prospect of a match finishing after 9pm if it goes to extra-time or penalties would have an adverse effect on the number of families that can attend one of the game’s showpiece events.
Chelsea are also worried about scheduled work on the mainline through Surbiton which could force a large percentage of their fans off the train network and prevent them getting back home at anything like a reasonable hour.
The Blues accepted they would have to play on the Sunday because it is the anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster but expected a lunchtime kick-off rather than the late slot and Chelsea will make a formal protest irrespective of the outcome of Wednesday’s quarter-final second leg against Benfica.
Didier Drogba and David Luiz are now expected to be fit for the game although the Ivorian may again have to be content with a place on the bench after Fernando Torres broke his six-month Premier League goal drought at Aston Villa on Saturday.
The fitness of Raul Meireles, who missed the trip to Villa Park with a knee knock, may determine whether Frank Lampard keeps his place but the England midfielder, who fell out badly with former boss Andre Villas-Boas, gave a ringing endorsement of successor Di Matteo’s man-management skills.
Lampard said: “I think he has changed a little bit since he stepped up and the roles are completely different. It has brought out a lot in him to be put in to be manager.
“To be a number two, with a lot of knowledge, when you’ve been a manager before, is probably not the easiest role because the number one makes the decisions.
“I think he is revelling in making those decisions. He has kept it very simple. The message is simple it’s not over-complicated. It’s a case of getting a confidence and passion through the team and, in the results we’ve had, in the majority, you’d say he has done that.”