Buses to take the Wembley strain

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BUS companies look set to seize upon the opportunity to transport Latics fans to Wembley following the refusal by train companies to provide extra services.

Following the announcement that the FA Cup final between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City will kick off at 5.15pm on Saturday May 11, bus companies are offering fans the chance to head to the capital and come back the same day.

Due to engineering works and the late kick off times, it will be very difficult for fans of either club to travel there and back by rail. Shearings Holidays are already selling coach packages including a nights stay in London for £89.

The last train from London Euston to Manchester on the night of the match is at 9pm. The last train to Wigan is at 8.31pm from the station.

Virgin said it was unable to put on extra trains and advised fans to leave the game early or stay overnight.

Jason Taylor, Wigan Athletic Supporters Club spokesman, said the time showed “blatant disregard” to the fans planning to attend the match.

He said: “It won’t affect us selling our allocation, we won’t have a problem with that, but it just makes the day a lot longer and a lot more difficult for the fans that go.

The FA said the later kick off time gives more people an opportunity to see the game and has proved popular.

Commenting on the issues facing fans, Latics manager Roberto Martinez questioned the stance taken by the FA.

He said: “It’s difficult to answer because when the FA make a decision of that magnitude there must be a reason behind it.

“I don’t know the reason behind yet so I would like to know what’s behind that thought because I’m sure it’s not a decision they would take lightly.

“It was a problem for the semi-final, the lack of trains from London, but I hope that everything can be resolved and they will look at it in a different way.

“You’ve got two clubs from the North West, from Greater Manchester, maybe that will change things.

“But it’s too early to come to conclusions because I’m sure the FA are well aware of the importance of helping the fans get down to London.

“But there are other issues and I’m sure the broadcasters will have a say. I think there are many other aspects than just the fans. If that kick-off time is the case, I’m sure they will look at it from a transport point of view to help the fans and we need to help the fans.

“It’s a unique occasion, it’s the FA Cup Final, we’ve never been involved before and the last thing I want is to be talking about the time of the kick-off.

“I love to have these problems, that’s why I see them lightly. If I could be involved every year in the FA Cup Final, I would have a stronger say on that, believe me. Now even if they want to play at 8 o’clock, I would be happy.”

Both sides have been given an initial allocation of 21,000 tickets, which go on sale this weekend to Latics season ticket holders, with prices starting at £45.