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The FA Cup fourth-round draw took place last week and in the past couple of days, the FA Cup fourth round kick off times for all 16 ties have been revealed. Once again, the matches will take place over five days from Thursday 25 January to Monday 29 January and match-going fans have seemingly been the lowest priority with organisers when sorting the schedule.
Kick-off times have long been a problem in the FA Cup and they contributed to worryingly low attendances in the FA Cup third round. The scheduling for the fourth round has revealed several late nights for away fans and a morning kick-off for a potential blockbuster derby.
FA Cup fourth round kick off times: Why fans are unhappy
No way back for Man City fans
Manchester City and Newcastle supporters are the most aggrieved fans in light of the FA Cup fourth-round scheduling. Man City have been pencilled in to face Tottenham in North London on Friday 26 January at 20:00. The club have taken the full allocation of 9,000 tickets but there is one major problem – the last train back to Manchester from London Euston is at 22:03 leaving City fans train-less for their journey back to Manchester.
Match-going Blue have taken to social media platform, X, to vent their frustration at the scheduling with one City fan saying: “The horse has obviously bolted with TV broadcasters and their (very little) care for match-going supporters. But things are certainly getting much worse. What was a £100 trip is now probably closer to £200. No reason this match couldn’t be played at 5:30pm on the Saturday.”
Newcastle fans to also be stranded in London
Newcastle fans face a similar predicament on Saturday 27 January with the FA scheduling their trip to Fulham in West London for 19:00. The slightly earlier kick off time does the travelling Magpies no favours as the last train from London to Newcastle departs at 21:00 which is only gettable if fans leave Craven Cottage at half time. The Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust released the following statement:
“A 7pm kick off leaves supporters with no option of catching a train home with the last train for Newcastle departing Kings Cross at 9pm, leaving thousands now looking for accommodation in London with only two weeks’ notice.
“The financial and logistical burden imposed on travelling supporters by TV companies is shocking in an industry reaping huge profits. It is always the fans who pay the price.
“The loyalty of supporters is once again being taken for granted. We urge the incoming football regulator to ensure that significant changes are put in place to ensure fans are priorities when it comes to TV scheduling of games.”
Four matches selected for Friday night
Another decision that has raised eyebrows amongst football supporters is the FA's decision to put four matches on the Friday night despite only one of them (Tottenham vs Man City) being selected for live coverage by broadcasters.
Aston Villa are being forced to play Chelsea on Friday 26 January in a decision that suits nobody. Chelsea will have been in Carabao Cup action on the Tuesday while Villa fans will have to race back to Euston after the match to get the final train back to Birmingham. Nottingham Forest fans face a similar predicament should they beat Blackpool in their third round replay and West Ham beat Bristol City.
If Bristol City manage to overcome the Hammers then a Friday night trip down to the South-West of England is on the cards for fans of Blackpool or Nottingham Forest. Due to the Friday night kick off time, the travelling Tangerines will face a train-less journey home regardless of who they play should they beat Forest in their replay.
A morning Black Country derby?
The final bit of fan controversy from the FA Cup fourth round schedule relates to the kick off time for the potential Black Country derby. Wolves need to first beat Brentford in a replay to set up the clash but providing they do that, West Brom and Wolves will face each other for the first time in three years.
The fixture has historically been one with plenty of fan trouble over the years so an early kick off was expected but some fans feel a morning start is too far. One Wolves fan took to X to say:
“11:45 kick off if we play the Albion – I hope we go out as I can’t be bothered with going there that early.”
A Brentford fan also chimed in with a good point, saying:
“You can understand why the WBA v Wolves game is at 11:45… if it’s WBA v Wolves. If Brentford get through, then it’s just an unnecessary early kickoff for both sets of fans.”
FA Cup fourth round kick off times: The full schedule
Thursday 25 January
AFC Bournemouth v Swansea City, 19:45 UK (S4C- TBC)
Friday 26 January
Chelsea v Aston Villa, 19:45 UK
Sheffield Wednesday v Coventry City, 19:45 UK
West Ham United or Bristol City v Nottingham Forest or Blackpool, 19:45 UK
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City, 20:00 UK (ITV1)
Saturday 27 January
Ipswich Town v Maidstone United, 12:30 UK (BBC One)
Crystal Palace or Everton v Luton Town or Bolton Wanderers, 15:00 UK
Leeds United v Plymouth Argyle, 15:00 UK
Leicester City v Hull City or Birmingham City, 15:00 UK
Sheffield United v Brighton & Hove Albion, 15:00 UK
Fulham v Newcastle United, 19:00 UK (ITV4)
Sunday 28 January
West Bromwich Albion v Brentford or Wolverhampton Wanderers, 11:45 UK (ITV1)
Watford v Southampton, 14:00 UK
Liverpool v Norwich City or Bristol Rovers, 14:30 UK (ITV1)
Newport County or Eastleigh v Manchester United, 16:30 UK (BBC One)
Monday 29 January
Blackburn Rovers v Wrexham, 19:30 UK (BBC Wales)