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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Cardiff nets FA Cup semis
Cardiff's Millennium Stadium has been chosen to host this season's FA Cup semi-finals as well as the final.

The first tie takes place on Saturday, 16 April 2005 at 1715 BST and the second game a day later at 1600 BST.

"Taking the semi-finals to Cardiff will ensure they are played at a neutral venue and that the maximum number of fans can attend," said an FA spokesman.

"The Millennium Stadium has been a wonderful venue for the final, with a unique atmosphere for teams and fans."

Wembley will stage FA Cup semi-finals on a permanent basis from 2005-06 season
FA spokesman Andrin Cooper

The 74,525 capacity of the Welsh national stadium has been the main factor behind the decision to play the games in Cardiff, comparing favourably with Old Trafford's 68,210 and Villa Park's 42,602.

It has hosted four FA Cup Finals, four Community Shield matches, four League Cup finals, four sets of Football League play-off finals, four LDV Vans Trophy Finals and one UEFA Cup clash - Total Network Solutions against Manchester City.

The stadium has hosted the final since 2001 and has been extensively used while Wembley has been out of commission.

FA spokesman Andrin Cooper revealed that it will be the first and only time that the Cardiff venue will host the semi-finals, because the newly-built Wembley should be ready in time for the 2005-06 competition.

He also said that the decision to use the national stadium - be it Wembley or its Welsh stand-in - was not a one-off.

According to Cooper, venues such as Old Trafford and Villa Park will not be used to host future semi-finals, with Wembley to stage the matches on a permanent basis.

"This is the only season where this will happen (at the Millennium Stadium) because Wembley will be built and the semis and final will be held there, with a 90,000 capacity, giving even more fans the chance to be at the semi-final and final," said Cooper.

"It is not the first time the same venue has been used for both the final and the semi-finals.

"Wembley did in 2000 and also in the early 1990s on three occasions and it did not take the shine off the final."

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