Club's can't agree

Wednesday 13 March 2002

Fulham and chelsea are today split over where their FA Cup semi-final should be played.

The Football Association is expected to announce soon where next month's tie will take place but the clubs are at odds about Highbury or Villa Park hosting the game.

Fulham want the tie at Aston Villa's larger ground so that more of their fans can watch their biggest match for 27 years.

But Chelsea are keen to keep it in the capital to reduce the distance their fans have to travel.

Aston Villa's ground has a capacity of more than 42,000 and can take up to 6,000 more supporters than Arsenal's Highbury stadium, depending on segregation arrangements.

Fulham fear that if the tie takes place in London the number of tickets available for their supporters will be significantly reduced.

Managing director Mark Collins said: "Based on ticket allocation our preference would be to go to Villa Park so we can get more of our fans at what will be our biggest game for 27 years."

Fulham last got to the FA Cup semi-finals in 1975 before losing to West Ham in the final.

Police will have a big say in the final decision on the venue, however.

It is due to take place on 14 April, the same day as the Flora London Marathon and problems with transport through London are bound to be raised. Playing the game a day early has not been ruled out.

But Chelsea managing director Colin Hutchinson said: "We were consulted by the FA and our preferred option was Highbury."