The FA may be forced to move the kick-off time of this season’s FA Cup final at Wembley from its traditional 3pm slot due to fixture congestion.
With UEFA demanding a fortnight to prepare the national stadium for the Champions League final on Saturday May 28, 2011, the world’s oldest cup competition has its showpiece scheduled for May 14, the same day as the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures.
With multi-million pound deals with rights holders across the globe to honour, the Premier League is unwilling to change its fixtures for such a crucial weekend of the season, which may force the FA to move the Cup final to 5:30pm.
Currently, eight top-flight matches are due to start at the same time as the match at Wembley.
That move would please broadcasters, affording them more time to devote to build-up coverage, but it will upset traditionalists and potentially cause travel problems for fans.
The FA has already had to compensate the Football League with a seven-figure payout after it booked the Champions League final for the same weekend as those the play-offs, breaching the terms of that contract.
The Championship play-off final will still be played on the Monday two days after the European match as planned, but the deciders for Leagues One and Two will now be played at either Old Trafford or the Millennium Stadium.
Of the 129 finals played since the FA Cup’s inception in 1872, only three have not kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday.
In 1873 the match between Oxford University and Wanderers began at 11:30 so that it did not clash with the Boat Race that afternoon, while in 1923 the first Wembley final was delayed by 45 minutes as overcrowding led to fans spilling on to the pitch.