The switch to Friday 25th January for Villa’s FA Cup fourth round trip to Millwall was greeted with understandable surprise by most Villa fans.
For starters, it’s an awkward time for a lot of supporters to make the game due to work commitments. Also, a night at The Den isn’t most people’s idea of a Friday night out; especially with the game coming fast on the heels of Villa’s Tuesday night semi-final second-leg against Bradford City.
It actually prompted the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) to contact MOMS asking what the reason was for the change, as they were only aware of two London games on Saturday (unless the Hammers beat United in a replay) – so it wasn’t exactly as if the Metropolitan police force was over-stretched.
We informed them about the Lewisham Hospital demonstration that was planned on the Saturday as the perceived reason for the Friday night date for the Millwall game. I say perceived, because the club (or West Midland’s Police Force) hadn’t actually offered any clear explanation to supporters when issuing ticket details.
The FSF contacted the Metropolitan Police on our behalf and this was the Met’s reply:
“…The Millwall game has been moved due to the fact that there is a large demonstration regarding the closure of Lewisham Hospital on Saturday. This will require police resources and a command team that would normally work on a Millwall game. The game could not be moved to Sunday as Aston Villa are playing a Premier League game on Tuesday so therefore it was decided mutually by the clubs that the game should be played on Friday night. The decision was not taken lightly but all parties concerned were spoken to, including the FA and this seemed to be the best option…”
Nothing we didn’t really know from what we’ve all already worked out, but nice to have the official line nonetheless. UTV
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