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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
England roadshow 'must go on'
Fans go wild after David Beckham's goal in the World Cup qualifier with Greece at Old Trafford
England have been a big hit away from London

Anger is growing over the decision to stage all England matches at the new Wembley stadium following its completion in 2006.

Adam Crozier confirmed on Thursday the FA was contracted to stage all internationals, including friendlies, at the new arena for the next 30 years.

England have played 10 friendlies since the last game at the old Wembley in October 2000, playing to sell-out crowds on each occasion.

And Mark Perryman, a London England fans representative, told BBC Sport Online that it would be a mistake to scrap the England roadshow.

"As a London-based fan, I have enjoyed immensely travelling around the country watching England," he said.


It's flying in the face of the experiment which has proved so successful during the past couple of years
Mark Perryman

"It's much better for the fans and it's something that's been welcomed by the FA, the players and the clubs.

"While I don't oppose the idea of a new national stadium, sacrificing the incredibly important experiment of taking the national team around the country is a real shame."

England's next game, against Macedonia, will see the team play in Southampton for the first time ever - a match which sold out in record time.

"It seems an absolutely vital compromise to have one or two friendlies a year away from Wembley," said Perryman.

"Cities like Southampton will be denied the opportunity to host England. It seems quite wrong.

"I say that as someone who has an advantage in getting to Wembley.

"You won't see tens of thousands of fans from Sunderland, Manchester, Liverpool or wherever turning out to support England at Wembley.

  Highlights of the England roadshow
Feb 2001, Villa Park:
England 3-0 Spain, attendance 42,129
May 2001, Pride Park:
England 4-0 Mexico, att 33,597
Oct 2001, Old Trafford:
England 2-2 Greece, att 66,009
Apr 2002, Anfield:
England 4-0 Paraguay, att 42,713

"You will create a situation where weekday games will become games for fans from London and the home counties."

Mr Perryman stressed he did not oppose the concept of a national stadium, but said it was important for all fans to be able to see the national team.

"A good Wembley can be a fantastic stadium. There are two advantages to playing there," he continued.

"One is that it gives the match prestige and two is that, practically speaking, it will have the biggest capacity of any stadium in the country.

"I am not saying we should not have it, but a simple compromise, where we build into the contract that once or twice a year an England game takes place away from Wembley would help tremendously.

"Otherwise the whole thing becomes a national nonsense, and it's flying in the face of the experiment which has proved so successful during the past couple of years."


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