A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email (In fact, all-in-all, I sent four emails) to the Football Association with regard to our FA Cup Semi-Final. I was annoyed at the fact that without common sense prevailing, Chelsea had been given Sunday April 15 as the date for our FA Cup Semi-Final against Tottenham Hotspur.
As a background to my original email, which was written prior to our Champions League Quarter-Final first leg game against Benfica, I pointed out that should Chelsea qualify against the Portuguese team, which we did, the club would only get a couple of days to rest and recuperate before playing in a huge match against the possible winners of Milan versus Barcelona in their Quarter Final of the same competition.
I also pointed out in the email that other football federations i.e. Italy, Portugal and Spain looked after their domestic clubs when it came to vital Champions League games. For instance, when Chelsea played Napoli in both legs of the last sixteen of the competition, the Italians were allowed to play their domestic games on a Friday evening and when we played Benfica, they were able to play on the Friday evening before we travelled to Lisbon.
In the email, I alluded to the fact that if the FA wanted English clubs to succeed in Europe they should be more flexible and I asked them to consider Chelsea playing on the Friday evening, rather than the Sunday.
Without me being connected in any way to Chelsea Football Club, apart from a supporter, later in press conferences, all of these points were pretty much backed up by the club in some way or another, which lead me to think that if our FA were going to be flexible, then they would take more notice of the club, than of me.
A few days later after sending my original email, I received a reply:
Dear Mr …
Thank you for contacting The Football Association.
The FA has confirmed the dates for the semi-finals, with Liverpool playing on Saturday and Chelsea on Sunday. All of these dates have been agreed with clubs, who are happy with the format for the weekend of the semi-finals.
The FA believes it is important to respect the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and is happy with its decision in relation to this weekend.
Customer Relations Officer Customer Relations
Personally, I felt that this didn’t answer the criteria of my original email, it actually made me quite angry and annoyed that as a customer, my original questions had not been answered. Personally, I could have answered that myself, it was total drivel and a load of rubbish. So I replied and asked for the matter to be taken to a higher authority.
I also suggested that I hoped that nobody purchased any merchandise whilst at Wembley and that England do extremely poorly in the European Championships, thus making the FA as little money as possible. (By that point I was very angry!)
For quite a few days I heard nothing, so I wrote again asking if they were ignoring me. Then on April 2, I received my final email from the Football Association, I also got a duplicate from a Tracey Bates too.
Dear Mr …
Thank you for contacting The Football Association.
The FA Cup Semi Final dates have been scheduled to take place on these dates for more than a year and have been fixed and agreed with all stakeholders. The confirmation of kick-off times followed detailed and lengthy discussions, which have involved all the relevant stakeholders, broadcasters and the Metropolitan police. In addition, when considering the scheduling of fixtures, The FA must consider the impact on fairness to all clubs who have equally important fixtures at this congested time of the season.
I realise that the above may not ease your frustrations. However we do appreciate all of the feedback we receive from supporters. This feedback is collated and used to build a picture of public opinion and is subsequently fed back internally within the organisation. Please rest assured your comments will form part of this feedback process.
Thank you again for contacting us.
Gary Stonehouse | Customer Relations
Well, that answer was absolutely bonkers. Take this line for instance – “In addition, when considering the scheduling of fixtures, The FA must consider the impact on fairness to all clubs who have equally important fixtures at this congested time of the season.”
WHAT? What other team in the FA Cup has congested fixtures? Are Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham in the Champions League Semi-Finals masquerading as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich? What other competitions are they in apart from the FA competitions? (FA Cup and Premier League) had this been another English club and I’m thinking, Manchester United, would the FA have accommodated them?
In my opinion these emails from the Football Association show how blind they are to the reality of football. Our club have players who will be playing at 6pm on Sunday, 7.45pm on Wednesday against Barcelona, 12.45pm on April 21 versus Arsenal and then they travel to Barcelona for a game at 7.45pm on April 24.
What other clubs in the FA Cup have such congested fixtures, yet the Football Association states that they must consider ALL clubs. I also believe that the players could be risking their own health by playing these fixtures crammed together, should it not be the responsibility of the Football Association to make sure that these fixtures are spread out so that players have time to rest and recuperate between fixtures?
In most people’s jobs a key word is flexibility, I see no flexibility whatsoever in this scenario. Flexibility here should have meant that our national federation, the FA, being flexible and helping the only ENGLISH team left in Europe by, in my opinion, saying that they could play this coming Friday evening, or arranging a time much more suitable than at 6pm on Sunday evening.
In 2002 we also had problems with the blinkered Football Association when, as venue of choice, they chose Villa Park for our FA Cup Semi-Final against Fulham. It meant that fans of both London clubs had to travel to the Midlands when a far easier choice of venue would have been in London.
The Football Association are the most laughable organisation in world football, whose aim for their customers and more notably, in this instance, Chelsea Football Club, is to stick their heads in the sand and do sweet FA.