English Premier League football club Manchester City is said to be struggling to sell the full 33,000-ticket allocation that it received for its FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal this coming Sunday.
City fans have criticised the fact that the game, to be held at Wembley Stadium in London, was scheduled on a Sunday.
UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported that between 1,500 and 2,000 tickets are yet to be sold for the fixture.
Arsenal received a similar ticket allocation and the London-based club had completely sold out more than a week ago.
The Saturday slot, which City fans had hoped for, was assigned to the other semi-final between two London clubs, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. FA Cup semi-finals have been held exclusively at the new Wembley since 2008.
The Sunday fixture takes place on the same day as the London Marathon, prompting worries about travel delays for the 3pm kick-off. City has also only released tickets to those who have a purchase history with the club, with no open-sale option.
City fan Andrew Heald told the Daily Mail that the lack of sales is not the club’s fault. “This is not City’s doing,” he said. “It’s down to those who schedule the fixtures. I am a season cardholder and was going to go down with a big group but we have decided against it. I’d booked a hotel for the Saturday night because I presumed, given City are the only team having to travel from the north, that we would be playing on the Saturday.
“With it being on a Sunday and with the kids in school the next day, it’s just something we can’t do. The semi-finals should not be at Wembley anyway, but this has made it even worse.”
The Football Association’s head of professional game relations, Andy Ambler, said that while transport and travel for the fans are considered, the decision ultimately lies with the broadcasters.
Free-to-air broadcaster the BBC has chosen the Chelsea v Tottenham match and a 5pm Saturday kick-off time. Meanwhile, pay-television broadcaster BT Sport will show City’s game with Arsenal at 3pm on Sunday.
A BBC spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “All kick-off times are agreed in partnership with the FA. The police and the four clubs involved in this weekend’s ties also confirmed they are happy with the times.”