Date:Thursday February 22 2007
The FA and the BBC have been blasted for switching Watford`s FA Cup quarter-final trip to Plymouth to 6pm on a Sunday.
The move — to allow telly coverage — means Hornets fans will be unable to catch a normal train back to London.
So they will either have to make the gruelling 438-mile round-trip by road or go by train and spend the night in Plymouth before returning on Monday morning.
But, if that was not bad enough, those who decide to travel by train will have to complete the final 70 miles of the journey from Tiverton to Plymouth by bus due to railway engineering works.
Graham Sterry, chairman of the Watford Supporters` Trust, fears many fans will now be forced to miss one of the biggest games in the club`s history.
And he blasted the BBC and FA for making the clash a 6pm kick-off on Sunday March 11, while Chelsea`s Cup tie with London neighbours Spurs takes place at 12.45pm on the same day.
Sterry said: "I`m amazed by the switch. The BBC`s Sunday evening game usually kicks off at 5.30pm, which would have been bad enough.
"But to make it even later is incredible.
"The FA and police apparently said they could not switch Chelsea`s tie because of safety fears.
"They don`t seem to care about making us travel 250 miles with no hope of getting a train back.
"It`s one rule for the big clubs and another for the rest of us. Would Manchester United have been made to go to Plymouth on a Sunday night? I don`t think so.
"It was always going to be a long trip but it`s now become almost mission impossible.
"How can I take my young son when he has to get up for the school the next morning?
"It`s a shame because it might be his only opportunity to see us in a quarter-final.
"Fans are the lifeblood of the game. It`s a shame the authorities don`t think the same. To treat us with such disdain is very hard to take."
The last normal train to London on Sunday pulls out of Plymouth at 7.15pm — around 30 minutes before full time.
Fans could fork out £63 for a single ticket on the sleeper service that departs at 1.30am and arrives at Paddington at 5.30am but seats are limited.
Argyle boss Ian Holloway said: "I`m devastated for those Watford fans who will be unable to come to the game.
"All I would say to them is, Plymouth is a fantastic city and a great Sunday night out, so throw a sickie at work and go back Monday morning."
Middlesbrough or West Brom host Manchester United or Reading at 5.30pm on Saturday, March 10 while Arsenal or Blackburn face Manchester City at 4pm the following day.
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