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The FA are very sorry that a member of their social media team put up a jokey post about Harry Kane and Chris Smalling.
The tweet, after Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Spurs in Saturday’s semi-final, read, “What’s that in your pocket, Chris?”, which linked to an unrelated video of Smalling saying, “Harry Kane”.
After a few raised eyebrows over a gag as tired as a Jimmy Tarbuck after-dinner speech, the FA – mortified that a junior employee, with a brief to connect with social media users, had caused offence – wrote to the two clubs begging forgiveness.
It was good to see them throw their hands up after being caught taking the pee.
But no surprise really, as Kane is the national team’s most-prized possession and his club are currently paying a handsome rent to the FA for hiring Wembley.
Shame they don’t show the same remorse when taking the pee out of fans, though.
Look at the FA Cup Final prices, where they’re charging up to £145 for a ticket and asking fans, who paid £65 and £45 to attend last weekend’s semi-finals, to pay £115 and £80 for the same seats.
United and Chelsea fans have expressed anger at prices going up 80 per cent on the semi-finals and as much as 35 per cent on last year’s final, but, so far, no FA apology for taking the pee.
Just as there wasn’t for moving the final to a Saturday tea-time, screwing fans from the North, who rely on trains.
Just the standard reply that the FA Cup Final is “one of the most prestigious events in the sporting calendar”.
In other words, we’ve got plenty of takers for these tickets.
We don’t really care if Wembley is filled with Far Eastern tourists and the boards of FTSE 100 Index firms all sporting half-and-half scarfs. So long as we can charge Last Night Of The Proms prices, we’re happy.
As David Chidgey, chairman of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, said: “This is absolutely obscene. It’s the sort of thing you expect from the Premier League, but, for the FA to charge these prices, when they are supposed to understand the plight of fans, is hard to take.”
It’s particularly hard to take after the reaction to the current mugging of English fans in Europe.
Atletico Madrid are charging Arsenal fans £79 to attend next week’s Europa League semi-final when their own fans will pay £37.50 to sit at the Emirates.
On Wednesday, Roma are charging Liverpool fans £73 for the Champions League second-leg, compared with the £48 they charged Shakhtar Donetsk in their round-of-16 tie. In that same round, Porto charged Liverpool fans £66 and their own fans £22.
Ronan Evain, head of Football Supporters Europe said: “There is a general perception that, if a club is rich, then its fans are rich, which is why English fans are being targeted.”
Liverpool made an official complaint to UEFA, who offered to look at the problem, but basically fobbed them off, saying “pricing strategy is the responsibility of the home club, so our focus is on encouraging dialogue between the clubs on any disputes”.
In other words, we’re not going to tell clubs what to charge even if your fans are being ripped off. Mainly because that’s what we’ll be doing in the final.
But then, why should UEFA order individual clubs in Portugal, Spain and Italy to get their houses in order when, at the home of English football, fans of their own country’s clubs are fleeced.
The FA are supposed to be the custodians of the game. The ones who are there to nurture, protect and make it accessible and fair. Yet they have no hesitation in exploiting fans like the worst of the European scalpers.
Any fans expecting a Harry Kane-style apology shouldn’t hold their breath.
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