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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 13:21 GMT
New Wembley to host semis
Villa Park
Villa Park was a traditional FA Cup semi-final venue
FA Cup semi-finals will be held at the new Wembley when the stadium finally reopens, the Football Association has announced.

To guarantee the financing of the new stadium, the FA made a 30-year pledge that a set number of annual fixtures - to include the FA Cup semi-finals - will take place at Wembley.

The move will bring to an end the status of grounds such as Villa Park, Hillsborough and Old Trafford as neutral semi-final venues.

It's a financial necessity in order to pay for the new stadium

FA spokesman Nick Barron

But it will ensure that up to 90,000 fans can watch the two games.

The FA's Wembley spokesman, Nick Barron, admitted that some people would be upset at the move from the traditional semi-final venues.

"There will be traditionalists upset by the idea of the semi-finals being at Wembley," he said.

"So will some fans of clubs who would have to travel a long way to London and we appreciate that it's not necessarily an ideal situation.

"However, it's a financial necessity in order to pay for the new stadium.

"And the up side is that not only will more fans be able to watch the games, but they will be doing so in the best stadium in the world."

Renovation work at Wembley finally started in September last year and it is estimated that the 757m project should be completed in early 2006.


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