FA ditch traditional 3pm Cup final kick-off

The FA Cup is to be moved this year from its traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off meaning a travel nightmare for Liverpool fans.

Chelsea’s clash with the Reds will now kick-off at 5.15pm on May 5 but Liverpool supporters will struggle to get home as planned Bank Holiday weekend engineering works mean all train services from London to the city that night have been cancelled.

It will be the first time the final will not have started at 3pm since the showpiece game has been played at Wembley.

The move could lead to yet more claims that the FA is undermining the game – which used to bring the curtain down on the English football season.

Floodlights will come into play during the game for the first time in 19 years — the last being Arsenal’s 1993 replay clash with Sheffield Wednesday on a Thursday night after a drawn Saturday match.

Chelsea have prevailed in the FA Cup five times since then, bagging the title in 1997, 2000, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Liverpool booked their first FA Cup Final appearance in six years with a 2-1 win over Everton on Saturday, while Chelsea triumphed with a controversial 5-1 victory over Tottenham in the second semi-final yesterday.

They have never met in the final before despite making a total of 43 semi-final appearances between them.

Twitter erupted with criticism directed at the FA over the timing of the final.

Chris Steers wrote: “I’m not sure on what planet the FA think that a 5.15 Kick Off for the Cup Final is a good idea.”

TD Margaret added: “The FA Cup is becoming less and less special. Semi finals at Wembley and now the Final at 5.15 PM.”

Ross Chapman tweeted: “The FA Cup final is on 5/5 and the kick off is at 5:15” Why? It’s tradition that the FA Cup final ko’s at 15:00.”

Mark Donovan said: “The FA: Pillaging another tradition. FA Cup final KO at 5:15. Absolute farce of an organisation.”

And Liverpool supporters now face a headache if they are travelling back on trains after the game, which will not finish until 7pm at the earliest.

Scheduled engineering work by Network Rail over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend means Virgin Trains has cancelled all but three of its Liverpool to London services on the day of the final.

Supporters are being advised to travel via Manchester or Chester, or to use Stoke-on-Trent station.

And any Liverpool fans that are able to make their way to the capital by train will be forced to find an alternative means of transport home or spend the night in London.