Jürgen Klopp has described the Football Association’s decision to stage the FA Cup semi-finals when there are no direct trains to London from Liverpool or Manchester as “one of the most ridiculous stories I ever heard”.
The Liverpool manager joined condemnation of the travel arrangements for his team’s semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley on 16 April, when engineering works planned since November 2019 will cause major disruption on the west-coast mainline. The FA will charter 200 free buses to take Liverpool and City fans to and from the game but the measure has not lessened Klopp’s incredulity.
Supporter groups from Liverpool and City have been highly critical of the FA’s schedule and Klopp said: “It is one of the most ridiculous stories I ever heard. I heard that they knew about the works for 18 months and I’m not sure what the FA thought; that no club from the north-west could be part of the semi-finals? I really can’t believe that things like this can happen with all of the information you have out there. I heard now that the FA or whoever are putting some coaches on the road. What is it, usually four and a half hours to London? It will probably then be 12 with both sets of supporters coming from the same direction. It makes absolutely no sense.”
Network Rail notified the FA of the engineering works 17 months ago and reminded the governing body of the disruption in September. The FA, which has avoided scheduling semi-finals over the Easter weekend for several years, says midweek matches in Uefa competitions and engineering works also planned for 9-10 and 23-24 April made the selected weekend the most suitable in a congested calendar.
But Klopp said: “I’m not sure when they had to decide when the semi-finals would be but I think there is another weekend between the Champions League games [they could have chosen]. It would have been our City game [on 10 April]. That would have been funny, moving the City game for a City game, but at least on that weekend all fans could have gone to Wembley without making it more difficult for them. How I know our people, they will find a way, but I’m just not happy that somebody made it so complicated. It should be easier to see your football team in a semi-final than the ways they have chosen.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, resumed full training on Friday after a hamstring injury and could be included in Klopp’s squad for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Watford. The influential full-back was expected to be out until next weekend’s visit to the Etihad Stadium.