Toffees and Reds seek Saturday semi-final

Pressure is building on the FA to switch the dates of the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley as fears mount over the travel arrangements of both Everton and Manchester United supporters. The two clubs are due to kick-off their semi-final at the national stadium at 4pm on Sunday April 19, while the other semi-final clash between Chelsea and Arsenal takes place a day earlier. Yet while fans of the two London clubs face a short journey across the capital, supporters from the North West will have to contend with a round-trip of over 400 miles.

And the late kick-off means thousands will face the prospect of arriving home in the early hours of Monday morning.

The Sunday rail schedule, coupled with the inevitable delays getting out of and away from the stadium will leave many Everton and United fans facing a race against time to catch early evening trains, with the majority having to endure a late night journey.

Companies and schools in the North West are readying themselves for a ‘semi-final sick day’ as many fans are expected to struggle to make it in after their day of travelling turmoil.

And this has led to calls for the second semi-final to be moved, or at the very least be switched with Saturday’s all-London tie.

With over 60,000 Everton and Manchester United fans planning to descend on Wembley, North West politicians have joined the managers of both clubs in condemning the FA’s decision to host the penultimate stage of the competition at England’s home of football.

While Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, has already teamed up with Joe Anderson of Liverpool City Council in an effort to effect a change of venue.

"It's just a nonsense. The match that is currently scheduled for Saturday could be between two London teams whose fans don't have to travel very far. Why can't they switch it?" Leese told the Manchester Evening News.

A semi-final switch appears the only possible solution to solve the travel chaos, as a move to a more suitable neutral stadium such as Villa Park is viewed as unviable.

The FA are tied to an agreement to host the next 30 years’ semi-finals at the new stadium in an effort to recoup the £757 million spent on the venue.

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