Wenger surprised TV companies allowed Cup and League clash

Reuters , Thursday 16 Apr 2015

Arsene Wenger
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger applauds during their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool, at Emirates Stadium, in London, Saturday, April 4, 2015 (Photo: AP)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Thursday he was surprised that rival TV companies have scheduled his club's FA Cup semi-final with Reading at Wembley on Saturday evening at the same time as Chelsea's Premier League clash with Manchester United.

The BBC and Sky Sports will do battle for ratings between the match at Stamford Bridge, which could yet have an influence on the outcome of the Premier League title, as well as the FA Cup semi-final.

Both matches are being shown live globally in over 150 countries around the world.

Arsenal and Reading kickoff at Wembley at 1620 GMT, just 10 minutes before Chelsea kick-off against United at Stamford Bridge.

"I am a bit surprised that two games of the same stature are being played at the same time, it is a conflict and it is difficult to understand," Wenger said.

"You would like it (the cup semi) to be the unique competition when it is played. Especially a semi-final and a final, you would want it not to conflict with other competitions."

He said he did not think that Sky and the BBC meant to go head-to-head to prove one competition was better than the other, explaining: "They could not have analysed that when they did the television deals.

"But it should have been planned.

"The television channels pay a lot of money and it is odd they should have conflicting interests in two such big games."

The dates for the FA Cup semi-finals were set last year and the BBC had a choice of scheduling slots but stuck with the 1620 GMT kick-off time despite Sky Sports announcing in February that Saturday's Premier League encounter would be played at the same time.

Wenger has a special relationship with the FA Cup and is the joint most-successful manager in the history of the competition, winning it five times, a record he shares with former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson.

He can move ahead of Ferguson if Arsenal retain the trophy they won last year, but he is taking nothing for granted against the Championship side on Saturday.

"We won't be, for two reasons," the 65-year-old Frenchman said.

"It can be very tricky and difficult, and secondly once you are in the semi-final at Wembley it would be absolutely non- intelligent to think you just turn up and win the game.

"We have prepared well for this game and we know exactly what will face us. I think the team will have the needed focus."

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