Arsenal are investigating travel options for as many as 9,000 supporters planning to attend next month’s FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United following the BBC’s decision to broadcast the game on a Monday evening.
The Cup holders’ clash with United is due to kick-off at 7.45pm at Old Trafford on March 9 with the BBC opting against screening the tie at the weekend in favour of the game being played immediately after the draw for the semi-finals earlier that evening.
But with the last train to London currently scheduled to leave Manchester Piccadilly at 9.15pm, and no flights from Manchester to London after 8pm, thousands of Arsenal supporters are faced with making a 400-mile round trip back to the capital by road.
Arsenal are entitled to receive up to 9,000 tickets for the game and will finalise their allocation with United over the next 24 hours, but the club has already announced that it will attempt to help supporters avoid travel difficulties.
“In the wake of this [fixture] announcement, the club is exploring a number of options to help our travelling supporters get back to London afterwards,” an Arsenal statement said.
“No return trains are currently timetabled and we will let supporters know the proposed travel plans as soon as possible.”
BT Sport, meanwhile, has announced plans to broadcast Bradford City’s quarter-final tie against Reading at Valley Parade on a free-to-air basis after selecting the game for live broadcast on Saturday 7 March.
League One Bradford, in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1976, were angered by the decision not to screen their fifth round victory at home to Sunderland on live television following the club’s fourth round win at Chelsea.
But BT Sport, who will also screen Liverpool versus Blackburn on Sunday 8 March, will make the Reading game available to non-subscribers when it is aired on Saturday lunchtime.
Aston Villa’s tie against West Bromwich Albion will be broadcast by the BBC at 5.30pm on March 7.
FA CUP QUARTER-FINAL TELEVISED LINE UP
Saturday, March 7: Bradford City v Reading – 12.45pm kick-off – Live on BT Sport 1
Saturday, March 7: Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion – 5.30pm kick-off – Live on BBC1
Sunday, March 8: Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers – 4.00pm kick-off – Live on BT Sport 1
Monday, March 9: Manchester United v Arsenal – 7.45pm kick-off – Live on BBC1