Published On: Wed, May 24th, 2023
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Man Utd and Man City ‘assigned service stations’ in effort to avoid FA Cup final warzones | Football | Sport

Manchester United and Manchester City have reportedly been assigned their own motorway service stations ahead of next month’s FA Cup final at Wembley. The two clubs are set to meet in the showpiece match for the first time ever.

United booked their place in the FA Cup final after overcoming Brighton in the semi-finals following a penalty shootout. City, meanwhile, saw off Championship club Sheffield United in the last four.

According to the Daily Mail, a high-security operation is planned to keep rival fans apart on the day. And official coaches have been told to use designated red and blue service stations on their journeys to Wembley.

A staggering 90,000 sell-out crowd is set to watch the match in London, with the majority of fans having no option other than to travel by road as there are national rail strikes on the day. The two clubs have put on 160 official coaches to take supporters to Wembley, while other buses organised by regional supporters’ clubs will also head to the capital.

United and City have worked closely with the FA and safety groups to structure travel arrangements for fans in the hope of avoiding unsavoury scenes. And Red Devils fans will depart Manchester from the AJ Bell Stadium, while Citizens supporters will meet at the Metrolink park and ride in East Didsbury and Radcliffe, as well as Aytoun Street.

The FA Cup final kick-off time has already been brought forward to 3pm following police concerns about staging a high-risk match in the evening. And security plans for the encounter are still being finalised.

“Discussions are taking place between the Met, the FA, the local authority, British Transport Police and other partners to ensure the safety and security of those attending the final at Wembley on Saturday, 3 June,” read a statement from the Metropolitan Police.

United and City met at Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final in 2011, with ex-Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson predicting “absolute chaos” ahead of the match due to its location. Supporters clashed at service stations on that occasion, with 34 fans subsequently arrested following violence around the stadium.

Meanwhile, ahead of this season’s final, the FA’s head of external operations Tom Legg said: “With limited services across the weekend, we would encourage supporters coming to the game to book their coach space early and use the options that the FA has put in place to support them.”

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